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8 Jul, 2022 18:42

NATO ex-commander encourages attack on Crimea bridge

Destroying the bridge would be a ‘huge blow’ to Russia, General Philip Breedlove believes
NATO ex-commander encourages attack on Crimea bridge

The bridge linking Crimea to the rest of Russia is a “legitimate target” for Ukraine, the former supreme NATO commander for Europe, General Philip Breedlove, believes. Kiev now has the ability to try and attack the bridge across the Kerch Strait with Western-supplied Harpoon anti-ship missiles, Breedlove told The Times in an interview published on Thursday.

“Kerch bridge is a legitimate target,” Breedlove stated. “It doesn’t surprise me at all that the Russians are concerned about Kerch bridge. It’s incredibly important to them.”

Now that the West has given Ukraine Harpoon missiles, I think the Russians have every reason to be worried about Ukraine launching an attack on the bridge.

The attack can materialize in retaliation to Moscow tightening its “naval blockade” on Ukraine, Breedlove claimed, suggesting that Russia might go as far as sinking civilian transport vessels carrying grain from Ukrainian ports.

Russia, however, has repeatedly stated that it was ready to provide safe passage for such ships, pointing out that the heavy mining of the Ukrainian coast, carried out by Kiev, was the only real obstacle for resuming grain exports by sea.

“There are many Western leaders and ex-leaders like me who are having conversations now about what would happen if Russia begins to sink Ukrainian grain ships or if the Russian naval blockade goes kinetic,” Breedlove said.

Several people I have spoken to say ‘dropping’ Kerch bridge would be a huge blow to Russia. Kerch bridge is a legitimate target.

While destroying the bridge completely would require a “dedicated bombing operation,” putting it out of order temporarily should be a fairly simple task, he said. All of the bridges have their “weak points” and hitting them “could render Kerch bridge unserviceable for a period of time,” the general added, citing his civil engineer training as proof of expertise.

Crimea voted to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia in March 2014, following the US-backed Maidan coup in Kiev. The Crimea bridge was built to simplify the connection to the Russian mainland.

Destroying the bridge has been repeatedly floated as an idea by top Ukrainian officials over the past few months. While Russia seized the southeast of Ukraine during the ongoing conflict, establishing an overland connection to Crimea, Kiev seemingly remains fixated on striking the bridge.

Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”

In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.