The Only Physical Link Between Crimea and Russia
In 2014 Vladimir Putin’s government illegally annexed Crimea as part of Russia. By 2018 he had built the longest bridge in Europe to physically connect the two land masses. This was a solid symbol of Russian domination. A $3.7 billion USD symbol. To make matters even clearer, Putin personally drove one of the first trucks over the structure the day it was opened. It’s like a dog peeing on something to claim ownership.
The bridge, of course, is of enormous practical importance. It plays a critical role in getting supplies from Russia, through Crimea, to Russian troops fighting in the Kherson region of Ukraine.
On October 8th, at about 0600 local time, an enormous explosion severely damaged the Crimea (or, as it is sometimes called, Kerch) Bridge. Because of its strategic importance, the bridge is one of the most secure structures in the world. Security cameras cover almost every inch.
Please watch the footage below made available through Twitter and Russian Media Monitor. Carefully watch the truck in the right-hand lane toward the center of your screen. Many believe it is the main cause of the damage. At the 0:17 mark, it seems to vaporize, causing a huge fireball severely damaging rail cars on the adjacent railway. Coincidentally, all seven of them were full of fuel.
Additional footage of the Crimean bridge explosion and some of the aftermath. pic.twitter.com/yehNKURdsN
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) October 8, 2022
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports that an initial bomb damage assessment shows one lane of the road bridge to be collapsed and damage to the nearby railway track. The Russian Investigative Committee quickly surveyed the damage, and they concluded that a truck had exploded on the bridge and ignited the fuel-laden railway cars. Almost immediately, though, Russia sent divers to examine the structural integrity of the bridge supports underwater.
For the record, I do not believe the truck was what brought the bridge down. No way, and I’ll explain why.
However, if the truck was the primary explosive device, we would see a hole in the middle of the road. None was evident. The structure collapsed into pieces and fell.
The detonation of high explosives above the surface of the bridge, as has been claimed by the Russians, would have sent the majority of the blast force up and away from the truck. However, as noted above, that would cause a massive hole in the roadway and extensive scorching of the highway’s surface. What little we see of damage to the road’s surface is likely from the fire from the railway cars that were full of fuel. In addition, modern bridges are made to withstand accidents in the unlikely event that a truck carrying explosive cargo may ignite.
No, ladies and gentlemen, this blast came from below.
By All Indications, an SOF Operation
Obviously, the Russians did not take out their own multi-billion dollar bridge and main supply line to a war they are currently fighting. The Ukrainians did this. But, they do not have weapons with the range to even come close to hitting the Crimea bridge from Ukraine. The HIMARS weapons systems we have provided to them could only cover a fraction of the hundreds of miles from Ukraine to the damaged bridge.
In my opinion, and you’ve probably read it here first, this was the result of a highly successful special operations forces mission. Mark my words: one day, a movie will be made about this. This operation took place deep behind enemy lines in Russian territory. Operators infiltrated the area with the highest degree of secrecy, bringing hundreds of pounds of high explosives. Whoever did was was good, very good. To say that the Russians are watching this bridge carefully would be an understatement.
I believe the explosion(s) came from under the bridge, with shaped charges likely being placed on the supporting structures. Who would have placed those explosives? Again, I can only speculate, but my money is on Ukrainian troops from the 73rd Naval Special Purpose Center. These are special forces units of the Ukrainian Naval Infantry, their version of our US Navy SEALs or British SBS. The exact details of their equipment are classified, but it is known to be highly sophisticated and comparable to what we have in the west. And keep in mind that US Special Operations Command Europe kept training the Ukrainians until the beginning of the war.
The Ukrainian 73rd has swimmer delivery vehicles (SDVs) and DPDs (diver propulsion devices) to get their combat divers where they need to be. The SDV can best be described as a mini-sub, about 22 feet long, with an electric motor and single screw propeller. High-frequency sonar and a doppler inertial navigation system get the Team and their gear where they need to be silently. They are often deployed from and may be retrieved by submarines. That’s one potential scenario for successful infiltration and exfiltration.
This is what Ukrainian SEALs look like when they come ashore.
The 73rd Naval Center for Special Operations is liberating the Kherson region.@SOF_UKR pic.twitter.com/pLOajkJCgT
— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) October 4, 2022
Regardless of exactly how they did it, the SOF made logistical issues for Russia in their war with Ukraine (especially in the Kherson region) much more difficult. Refer to the map above from Sky News. It shows how supplies, equipment, and troops were getting from the motherland to the Kherson region of Ukraine through annexed Crimea utilizing the 12-mile-long Crimea (Kerch) bridge. Now that they can’t do that, materiel will have to be moved by sea to the Ukrainian port cities of Berdyansk and Mariupol and trucked hundreds of miles through enemy territory to its destination.
The Russians, of course, will move to repair the bridge as quickly as possible. Still, I wager that the damage will buy the Ukrainians at least two or three weeks of valuable time where the already undersupplied Russian forces will receive very little or no support.
This is an enormous blow to the Russians, on par with the Ukrainian sinking of the Moskva. A sound tactical victory and one hell of a morale booster. “Look at what we can do,” they are telling the Kremlin, giving the middle finger directly to Putin. To his credit, Mr. Putin isn’t stupid, never said he was. Shortly after the attacks, he gave a speech stating how he views this as a terrorist attack against his country and, “The authors, perpetrators and those who ordered it are the special services of Ukraine.” As a former KGB man, he knows this and is currently doing his best to take revenge against the citizens of Ukraine because he has been made to look so bad.
My hope is that the armed forces of Ukraine will take full advantage of this situation to push Russian forces from the Kherson region. The New York Times just yesterday reported on increasingly lowered enemy morale and a general retreat from the area.
Author’s Note: Many thanks to the Wall Street Journal and their chief correspondent on the ground in Ukraine, Yaroslav Trofimov, for making the insightful YouTube video presented above. They seem to be of the same mind that we are, that this was not solely the work of a truck bomb and definitely not caused by a missile strike.