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Russia is attempting to protect a vital bridge and supply line with a set of barges, UK intelligence says

Kwan Wei Kevin Tan   

Russia is attempting to protect a vital bridge and supply line with a set of barges, UK intelligence says
  • Russia is fortifying the Kerch Bridge with barges, says the UK's defense ministry.
  • The barges will help "to defend the bridge and shipping channel" from Ukrainian attacks, per the UK.

Russia is shoring up the defenses for the Kerch Bridge with barges, the UK's defense ministry said on Saturday.

"Analysis of imagery has identified the installation of eight barges on the southern side of the Kerch Bridge," the UK's defense ministry wrote in its intelligence dispatch.

"These barges were placed by Russian forces in an attempt to defend the bridge and shipping channel, reducing the angles of approach for Ukrainian Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs)," the ministry said.

According to the ministry, the barges were installed between May 10 and May 22.

This isn't the first time barges have been placed near the bridge, which connects Russia to occupied Crimea, per the UK's defense ministry.

"Previously installed barriers have been damaged by storms, reducing their effectiveness," the intelligence dispatch said.

The Kerch Bridge has been a key military artery for the Russians, who rely on it to transport their military freight into occupied Crimea and southwestern Ukraine.

But Ukrainians view the bridge, which was built in 2018 after the Russians had annexed Crimea in 2014, as an illegal construction. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, the Ukrainians have managed to damage the bridge in two successful attacks.

The first attack occurred in October 2022, when a fuel tank explosion saw the bridge's road section collapse. The second attack took place in July when it targeted the bridge's support struts with sea drones.

The repeated attacks appear to have caused the Russians to stop using the bridge. According to a report from the open-source intelligence organization Molfar last month, Russian military freight trains weren't seen on the bridge between February and mid-April.

Instead, the Russians seem to have placed their hopes on a new railway route that runs along the Azov Sea. The route passes through Russian-occupied Mariupol and Berdiansk before ending in Crimea.

"The railway along the land corridor is recognition on the part of the Russian occupiers that the Crimean Bridge is doomed," Dmitry Pletenchuk, a spokesman for Ukraine's southern military command, told The Economist in a story published on June 2.

"They are looking for a way to hedge their bets because they are aware that sooner or later, they will have a problem," he continued.

Representatives for Russia's defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider sent outside regular business hours.




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