Ukraine's military intelligence plotting third attempt on Crimea bridge - The Guardian

Ukraine's military intelligence plotting third attempt on Crimea bridge - The Guardian

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry's Main Intelligence Directorate (HUR) is preparing a third strike on the Kerch Strait Bridge, which connects Russia with temporarily occupied Crimea.

That's according to The Guardian, which cites senior HUR officials, Ukrinform reports.

The officials indicate the HUR is plotting a third attempt on the bridge, after two previous attempts to blow it up, claiming its destruction is "inevitable."

The HUR thinks it can disable the bridge soon.

"We will do it in the first half of 2024," one official told The Guardian, adding that Kyrylo Budanov, the head of the HUR, already had "most of the means to carry out this goal." He was following a plan approved by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to "minimize" Russia's naval presence in the Black Sea.

For Putin, the bridge is a tangible reminder of what he sees as one of his greatest political achievements: the peninsula's 2014 "return" to Russia using undercover Russian troops and a sham referendum.

For Ukraine, the bridge is equally a hated symbol of the Kremlin's illegal annexation. Its destruction would strengthen Ukraine's campaign to liberate Crimea and raise morale on and off the battlefield, where Kyiv's forces are gradually being pushed back.

How any Ukrainian attack would unfold is unclear and there are serious doubts about whether the HUR is capable of pulling off a special operation against such a well-defended and obvious target. Russia has taken extensive measures to protect the bridge, strengthening anti-aircraft defenses and deploying a "target barge" as a decoy for incoming guided missiles.

Over the past five months Ukraine has sunk seven landing boats and large ships belonging to Moscow's Black Sea fleet. The latest, the Sergei Kotov, capsized earlier this month after a night-time raid involving 10 Ukrainian Magura V5 amphibious drones packed with explosives as it was on patrol south of the Kerch bridge. HUR officials indicated this was a "shaping operation" prior to another attack on the crossing.

The bridge has been hit and repaired twice before. A 3am raid by Ukrainian sea drones last July caused extensive damage to the road section, which runs parallel to a separate railway section used by Russia's military to move tanks and supplies. In October 2022 an explosion, Russia said from a bomb smuggled on to a truck, caused several spans of roadway to fall into the water.

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