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11 Apr, 2024 07:09

We really want to destroy Europe’s longest bridge – Zelensky

Ukraine’s leader says targeting Russian infrastructure including the Crimean Bridge remains a top priority
We really want to destroy Europe’s longest bridge – Zelensky

Ukraine’s goal of bringing down Russia’s Crimean Bridge is part of plans for a new counteroffensive, President Vladimir Zelensky said in an interview with international media this week.

Since the outbreak of the Ukrainian conflict in 2022, several officials and commanders in Ukraine, including Zelensky, have been threatening to destroy the 19-kilometer bridge connecting the Russian peninsula of Crimea to the Krasnodar Region – claiming the structure was vital for the Russian military.

“We really want to destroy Russian infrastructure. This is not just about the bridge in Kerch, which everyone is talking about. We are talking about some infrastructure facilities that constitute a military target. We are talking about bridges and airfields,” Zelensky said on Tuesday, speaking to outlets owned by the German media giant Axel Springer.

Ukraine’s leader made the same claim last year during Kiev’s failed attempt to wrest back land lost to Moscow in 2022. The Crimean Bridge is a legitimate target for Ukraine and must be “neutralized,” he said in a video address to the Aspen Security Forum in July.

Earlier, some Western media outlets wrote that new attacks on the bridge are inevitable. In February the commander of the Ukrainian Navy, Vice Admiral Aleksey Neizhpapa, claimed it will be destroyed in 2024. Kiev has repeatedly asked Germany for long-range Taurus missiles, specifically to strike the bridge. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has firmly rejected Kiev’s request, arguing that Russia could view this as Berlin’s involvement in the war.

However, Scholz looks increasingly isolated in this view – in March, a leaked audio revealed that top German officials were discussing plans to send Ukraine long-range missiles that could take out the bridge.

The Crimean Bridge was built between 2016 and 2018 and was the only road and rail link between the peninsula and mainland Russia. However, Moscow opened a vast land bridge to Crimea after Kherson and Zaporozhye regions and the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk voted to officially join Russia in the fall of 2022.

The structure had been targeted with missiles and naval drones on numerous occasions, but most of those attacks have been successfully blocked. In October 2022, an explosives-laden truck blew up as it was traveling along the bridge, killing three people and causing extensive damage. In July last year, a drone boat exploded under the structure, killing two people.

Back then, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin labeled the attack “brutal” and pointless from a military perspective. He claimed the bridge is no longer being used to transport ammunition