Fri, 07 Oct 2022

Zelensky aide threatens Europe's longest bridge
17 Aug 2022, 19:13 GMT+10

Kiev wants the structure over the Kerch Strait destroyed and anticipates sabotage incidents

The Crimean Bridge, the largest structure of its kind in Europe, which connects the peninsula with mainland Russia, "should be destroyed," an aide to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has told the Guardian.

"It's an illegal construction and the main gateway to supply the Russian army in Crimea," Mikhail Podolyak said in an interview published on Tuesday, explaining why Kiev wants to attack it.

The bridge was constructed after Crimea broke away from Ukraine following an armed coup in Kiev in 2014 and voted in a referendum to join Russia. It forms a direct road and rail connection with the region, which previously could only be reached from the mainland by sea or air. The bridge is predominantly used by civilian traffic.

Podolyak is the latest Ukrainian official to confirm Kiev's intention to attack the structure. The remark came as he appeared to hint that Ukraine was in the process of delivering a series of acts of sabotage in Crimea.

Since last week, two separate locations on the peninsula have been rocked by powerful explosions at military sites used to store ammunition. The Russian defense ministry acknowledged the latest, which happened on Tuesday near the village of Mayskoye in northern Crimea, as an act of sabotage.

Kiev has not formally claimed credit for the incidents, but many Ukrainian officials hinted that this was the case, with Podolyak following the pattern in his interview with the British newspaper.

"I certainly agree with the Russian ministry for defense, which is predicting more incidents of this kind in the next two, three months. I think we might see more of those happening," he noted.

The Ukrainian presidential aide called the purported clandestine attacks a "counteroffensive" different in nature from the type of military action usually described by this term.

"A Ukrainian counteroffensive looks very different [from a Russian one]. We don't use the tactics of the 60s and 70s, of the last century," he claimed. The Guardian suggested that Podolyak may have tacitly admitted Ukraine's failure to amass troops and weapons for an actual pushback against Russian troops on the battlefield.

Top Ukrainian officials have for weeks promised a push to recapture the city of Kherson would begin soon, with some even claiming the operation was already underway.

Podolyak told the BBC last week that "all public statements" by Ukrainian officials were "psychological warfare" aimed at demoralizing the Russian army.


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