Observers: Crimean Bridge Attack Takes Ukraine Crisis to New Phase Where Infrastructure is Fair Game
14:50 GMT 08.10.2022 (Updated: 20:57 GMT 19.10.2022)
The 19 km bridge linking Crimea to the Krasnodar region via the Sea of Azov was struck by a massive explosion on Saturday, halting all road and rail traffic. A senior advisor to Ukraine’s president immediately boasted that the attack was just “the beginning,” with Moscow calling the comments proof of Ukrainian authorities’ “terrorist nature.”
The extraordinary attack on the Crimean Bridge takes the security crisis over Ukraine to a dangerous new level, with both sides likely to expand attacks against civilian infrastructure, political observers, journalists, and academics have told Sputnik.
“Ukraine’s attack against the Crimean Bridge undoubtedly took place after getting a green light from the United States and using American weapons. The US side intends to further ramp up the degree of escalation of the conflict and military hostilities,” Iranian journalist and Russia expert Ruhollah Modaber says.
Modaber points out that the attack on the bridge came less than two days after President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the West to carry out a "preemptive," possibly nuclear attack against Russia, and shortly after Kiev’s "recognition" of Russia’s Kuril Islands as "occupied" Japanese territories.
“All this shows that the scenario developed for Zelensky by the White House has entered a new dangerous phase, and the Russian government will undoubtedly respond as it sees fit. But there is no doubt that Ukraine today, in accordance with the US plan, is serving as a springboard for expanding the area of large-scale strikes against Russia, and it is impossible to even predict where Ukrainian strikes may take place next,” the observer says.
Political analyst and former MEP Nick Griffin agrees that there is no question of US involvement in the attack on the bridge, but believes that there are important distinctions to be made between that attack and last month’s sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, for example.
“First, hitting the bridge was an act of war against Russia, while the target of the pipeline sabotage was primarily Germany. Second, the ISIS-style* suicide bomb on the bridge was a very different sort of violence to the highly sophisticated, state-level naval operation in the Baltic,” Griffin says. “Of course, the bridge attack would not have been conducted without CIA approval, but while they are part of the same war it is hard to see any direct connection.”
Both actions were aimed at public opinion, Griffin argues, with the Crimean Bridge bomb meant to anger Russians and push Moscow “into retaliation that can be used as fresh propaganda for increased intervention” by the West, while the sabotage of Nord Stream was meant to deprive Germans of the ability to pressure their government into turning the gas taps back on again in time to save the nation’s industrial base from disintegrating.
8 October 2022, 05:59 GMT
Griffin believes the attack against the Crimean Bridge will make it “easier” for Moscow to target Ukrainian infrastructure – something the Russian military has so far generally avoided doing in a bid to limit civilian casualties and economic damage. “The Western public would see such a move as understandable retaliation,” he says.
“This contrasts with, for example, a strike on a NATO base in eastern Poland, which would be very ‘satisfying,’ but badly misjudged, sort of response that the Zelensky regime and its US deep state advisors surely hope to see,” the observer suggests.
Ma Youjun, lead expert at the Sino-Russian Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation research center at Heilongjiang University in Harbin, China, concurs that the attack on the bridge will likely escalate the crisis.
“Over the past six months, the emphasis has been on observable combat operations. In the future, the situation will most likely be more of a war with an emphasis on aspects such as logistics, infrastructure, and so on. This has already been manifested in the explosions targeting the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines, and [now] the Crimean Bridge. Obviously, attacks on railway stations, bus stations, railways and roads are possible in the future. A war is being waged to destroy the enemy, and the goal is not limited to destroying his physical combat power,” Ma fears.
The scholar argues that as Western assistance to Kiev continues to increase, “its image as an indirect participant in their war becomes more distinct… Furthermore, Zelensky’s public rejection of negotiations with Russia is not a Ukrainian decision, but the decision of Western countries,” Ma stresses.
Tiberio Graziani, chairman of Vision & Global Trends – an Italy-based international affairs think tank, echoes the concerns expressed above, telling Sputnik he believes the attack on the bridge was “part of a complex plan” to escalate the confrontation between Kiev and Moscow, and “could mark a new phase” of further acts of terror on Russian soil.
8 October 2022, 08:39 GMT
Crimea Made Correct Choice
Unver Sel, head of the Federation of Crimean Tatar Communities of Turkey, recalls that the attack on the Crimean Bridge was preceded by repeated statements by Ukrainian officials and their allies on the need to target the $3.7 billion piece of Russian infrastructure. Saturday’s attack is proof that the people of Crimea made the right choice when they voted overwhelmingly in a referendum in March 2014 to split off from Ukraine and rejoin Russia after the February 2014 Euromaidan coup.
“After the Orange Revolution, Ukraine’s governments changed several times, but their methods did not change,” Sel says. “Using the same methods, they turn to terror and strike at civilian objects. The people of Crimea, who foresaw this situation in advance in 2014, did not become engaged in the civil war in Ukraine, but joined Russia after a popular vote. [The terror attack on the bridge] make clear how right they were. Because the Crimean Bridge connects the peninsula to the Russian mainland, it is used by the population, provides for the needs of the peninsula. This is a blow to the entire people of Crimea.”
5 October 2022, 09:51 GMT
Russia’s response to Saturday’s attack will depend on what the Kremlin’s plans are for resolving the security crisis, Nick Griffin says.
“If it has been decided that demilitarization and de-Nazification can only be achieved by complete occupation, then obviously the destruction of critical infrastructure creates an enormous future financial burden. Assuming the intention is only to liberate the Russian-speaking areas and a buffer zone – leaving a landlocked rump Ukraine to be a huge financial liability to its Western sponsors – then an extensive air campaign against its infrastructure would not only weaken Kiev’s war effort, but also pile on the financial agony for the Western powers who are underwriting Zelensky’s unwinnable war,” Griffin argues.
Ultimately, the observer suggests that the “best response” Russia can make in reply to the attack on the bridge, “and to Zelensky’s ‘it’s just beginning’ boast – which is of course both tacit admission of guilt and threat of more terrorist attacks to come on Russian soil – is simply to press on with winning the war.”
Russia’s current strategy – trading territory to inflict casualties on Ukrainian and NATO mercenary forces, may undermine popular support at home if it continues, and make “it easier for the insane warmongers in the West” to prepare Western public opinion for a false flag tactical nuclear attack, "carried out by US forces but blamed on Russia,” Griffin warns.
“This is a further reason for unleashing the full force of the Russian army immediately, and following up with the large-scale deployment of the recently called-up reservists the moment the training they are currently undergoing is complete…Liberating Odessa and linking up with Transnistria would be the best answer to Zelensky's turn to ISIS-style terror. It cannot be done next week, but it should be done by next spring,” the observer concludes.
6 October 2022, 17:37 GMT
For his part, Cairo University Professor of International Relations Nourhan el-Sheikh believes that President Zelensky deserves to be overthrown for the “recklessness” he has shown since the very beginning of the Ukrainian crisis, but that the West will continue to support him because hasn’t yet completed the role his sponsors have in mind for him.
“Zelensky is fighting using terrorist means and methods. We have already seen this terrorist mentality in the Donbass, and today in Kerch, and even in relation to the Ukrainians themselves, so the overthrow of the Zelensky regime is becoming a necessity not only to reach peace in Ukraine and the Donbass, but also to establish peace throughout the world, because at the moment events are moving in a direction which may already threaten international security,” el-Sheikh says.
Dragana Trifkovic, director of the Belgrade-based Centre for Geostrategic Studies, echoed other experts' sentiments about the turn to terror tactics by Kiev and its sponsors.
"It is very likely that Ukraine is involved in this case with the support of Western powers. If this is proven, it will be another confirmation of the fact that Ukraine as a state is officially carrying out terrorist actions, for which it has the support of the USA. The recent case of sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines along with the sabotage of the Crimean bridge leads us to think that terrorism has been adopted as a model of action by Western powers. If we exclude the danger of these moves and their possible influence on the further escalation of the conflict between NATO and Russia, it can be said that these are the moves of the desperate," the analyst says.
8 October 2022, 12:31 GMT
*Daesh, also known as ISIS/IS/Islamic State, is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.