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Can Russia recover from the Kerch Strait Bridge attack?

Jul 24, 2023

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Ukraine is now taking responsibility for the July 17 attack on the Kerch Strait Bridge linking mainland Russia to the Crimean peninsula — the territory Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Although the roadway portion of the bridge was mostly destroyed, the railroad artery for Russian troops and military supplies escaped serious damage.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan says Ukraine now has a chance to make a “huge breakthrough” in the war. And he believes if they can’t make it happen soon … it may never happen.

Excerpted from Peter’s July 20 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or stuck in the mountains), you’ve probably heard that the Kerch Strait Bridge was attacked again. While this attack took Russia’s vehicular transport capabilities offline, there’s much more at stake here.

This bridge is Russia’s most important logistical infrastructure in this war. It serves as the primary method Russia uses to get equipment, troops, and fuel into the front. They fancy this route in particular because it is out of artillery range, unlike the mainland alternatives.

Due to the vehicle bomb attack last year, the Kerch Strait Bridge was already operating at a limited capacity; vehicle transport was fine, but only one of two rail lines was operational. So with this new attack taking the vehicle spans offline, the singular light cargo rail line is the last man standing.

This is bad news for Russia, and if they can’t fix it quickly, it could evolve into a massive global embarrassment. Right now, the Ukrainians have a chance to make a huge breakthrough, but if they can’t make it happen soon…it may never happen. So be sure to keep a close eye on Ukraine.

Hey everybody, Peter Zion here. Apologies for this getting to you late.
The news is from the night of the 16th and 17th of July, somebody blew up part of the current Street Bridge in southern Ukraine again. And you’re getting this a little bit late because I’m getting this message literally in an area called the no man’s wilderness. So I got the information by satellite text, it is going to take a day or two for me to get to a place where I can transmit. But let me tell you what I know. And then we’ll add a little addendum at the end if it’s necessary. So the Kerch Strait bridge, first of all, what is it simple, it’s important piece of logistics in the Ukraine war. It is the primary method that the Russians use to get equipment, and men and ammo at especially fuel into the front, specifically over this bridge that crosses the Kerch Strait, which is a body of water separating the Sea of Azov in eastern Ukraine from the Black Sea proper. The problem the Russians have the reason I like to bridge so much is if they try to send things through the mainland route, going through the provinces of KEARSON and Zyprexa. It’s within a rocket and artillery range. And the Ukrainians have shown that they’re targeting especially with intelligence provided by the Western allies, and sufficiently good to hit most trains in that area as they’re passing through. So that means they would have to go to convoys. And that takes significantly longer. And they can’t move nearly as much gear or people and especially fuels. So they like to use the current straight bridge, get the stuff into Crimea, and then take other methods of distribution through the northern part of events law into the southern front. Now, where were we just before this attack? Well, if you go back to last autumn, someone blew up the Kurt St. Bridge, no one claimed responsibility, but it was clearly Ukrainians or maybe the Americans. Anyway, what happened was a vehicle explosive back last year, I blew up one of the spans, there are four spans that matter for transport routes that matter. There’s two two lane road routes. And there’s two single line rail routes and the vehicle explosive, destroyed one of the vehicle routes, and the explosion was proximate to a cargo train that was going by so it started a fuel tank fire, which destroyed one of the rail routes and severely damaged the second one. In the weeks that followed, the Russians were able to repair that road span, but they were never able to bring the destroyed rail system back on line even today. And that as of about a month ago, the the other rail line had been rated for a passenger traffic and what they like called Light cargo so you know, no tanks or fuel tankers. So they can send some ammo, they can certainly send people in troops. But they certainly can’t send fuel in the volume that they would like. There is really no alternative to the current Street Bridge. That northern route that goes on may lead Ukraine is too easy to interdict and the Ukrainians have proven time and time and time and time again, with missiles and underwater drones, that they can attack maritime vessels. They have become so problematic that the Russians are no longer even stationing their military vessels in the Crimean peninsula at all, they’ve been pulled them all back to their port city of Novorossiysk on the northeast shore of the Black Sea. Okay, what this new attack did was, again, attack the vehicle spans but this time from below, they completely took out one of the vehicle spans again and severely damaged the second one, which means the only way that the current spray bridge can function now has that one remaining rail link that is operating at partial capacity to like cargo weather. And that’s it. This is extraordinarily bad for the Russians. I mean, forget passenger traffic in and out although the Russians have this hilarious government program to encourage tourism in Crimea during the wars. Oh, yes, yes, yes. Take a bridge that has been attacked several times whatever. It’s anyway. Oh, hang on for a second. I’m going to switch views here so you can see the
independence paths behind me one of the highest road passes in America and I’m well above it here and Giesler peak. Okay, where was I?
Okay, if the Russians prove on able to get this line repaired fairly quickly, and who knows? That’s a disaster for Russian forces. They’re already under extreme pressure. From the Ukrainians. The Ukrainians have already hit a number of bridges, and road and rail connections in and out of the northern part of Crimea, which was already constraining the Russian logistics. Now. They can’t bring anything fresh at all at scale.
So if the Russians can’t the US get this backup online, all the 100 odd 1000 troops that they have in Crimea are going to be completely on their own. Also in the aftermath of the destruction of the COVID Dam earlier this year, there will be no food grown it at scale in the Crimean peninsula at all. With the cukurova Reservoir drained it dropped the water level below
do what was necessary to fill the irrigation trenches. And that is bad for zapper Aneesa. That is bad for KEARSON. That is bad for Crimea. So the Russians no longer have the cap capacity to bring in food in volume, which means unless the Russians want to face the mother of all global embarrassments and have the entire Russian population of Crimea, which there’s over 2 million people, plus 100,000, Russian troops become hostages of the Ukrainians, they need to start a mass evacuation as soon as possible.
My guess is that this is not going to happen, because the Russians have shown and remarkably unable to carry information up to the top. So it’s entirely possible that Putin doesn’t know just how dire the situation is. And this, of course, assumes that there’s no additional attack to complicate repair efforts, or just cause further damage to any parts of the system. And we’re at a point now where a medium range missile could temporarily take out that one remaining real connection. And that’s all she wrote. The Russians are gonna find it very hard to repair things in a counter offensive situation, but they’re also gonna find it very hard to convoy everything they need out by land so that one remaining railway got some partial capacity. That’s all they got.
Of course, there’s the question of how is this done? Now we know that the explosions came from below the road system. Not on top, this was not a vehicle bomb like it was before. So it’s either a special forces group that blew up one of the pylons, or it was a series of underwater drones that did something similar. The Ukrainians do have the capacity to do that. They have attacks the Vesta pool, which is that naval base on the south west coast of the Crimean peninsula several times using weapons like these, but the Ukrainians are not claiming specific means or even responsibility. The Russians, of course, are blaming the American the British government, I don’t want to say it wasn’t the Americans were wasn’t the British, but I would suspect if it was the Americans, we would have not hit the road section, we’d have had the rail section, because that would have had a much more desired impact upon the war effort by breaking the really strong rail connection that the Russians really need. Whereas you can use less explosive to go after the road spins. But that’s just me projecting. I don’t know for sure. Okay. Next steps, the Russians are going to try to repair the Ukrainians are going to try to inhibit that. And the pressure from the Ukrainians on the entirety of the southern front now is probably going to kick up a notch because we’re in a position where the Russians cannot resupply at meaningful scale. And this is how you achieve breakthroughs. So we haven’t seen a lot of over movement on the front. So far, we certainly haven’t seen the Ukrainians achieve breakthrough. But if they can’t do it in these circumstances, and it’s probably not going to happen, so watch Ukraine closely. Take care. Bye bye.

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