Russian armed forces are reportedly reinforcing the country’s only bridge with Crimea, in an increasingly desperate effort to protect the vital logistics route from Ukrainian attacks on Moscow’s military infrastructure around the Black Sea.
The British Ministry of Defense said that “Russia uses a series of passive defenses such as smoke generators and underwater barriers, alongside active defense measures such as air defense systems”, according to the latest British report. war intelligence update released on Friday.
The Russian move aims to “enhance the survivability” of the 19-kilometre Crimean Bridge – the longest in Europe – and also to protect ferries carrying troops and weapons to Ukraine, according to the assessment.
According to British intelligence, satellite images show that since August 29, an underwater barrier has been created using sunken ships to block marine drones. Just a fortnight ago, Kyiv forces said they used unmanned vessels to strike the Crimean Bridge, causing extensive structural damage.
“We are working on a number of interesting new operations, especially in the waters of the Black Sea,” Vasyl Malyuk, head of the Ukrainian intelligence agency SBU, said at the time. “I promise you, it will be exciting, especially for our enemies,” he said.
Moscow relies heavily on the rail and road link across the strategic Kerch Strait to supply its troops fighting on the front lines in southern and eastern Ukraine. This link is also a symbol of Russian control over the occupied Ukrainian peninsula, opened by President Vladimir Putin in 2018 – four years after Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
Last month, following a series of explosions at a Russian air base in the region, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Moscow’s war against his country “began with Crimea and must end with Crimea,” pledging to liberate the Black Sea peninsula.