Kerch Bridge: Sign of Putin’s Defeat?

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A part of the Kerch Bridge, constructed in 2018 by Russia, was damaged by explosions on October 8, 2022. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the explosions, Advisor to the Ukrainian Presidential Office Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted the following statement immediately after the incident: “Crimea, the bridge, the beginning. Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled.”[1] Therefore, there is a very real possibility that the explosion was carried out by Ukrainian special forces. In fact, that is what the Ukrainian authorities’ responses to the incident suggest. Drawing a parallel with the aforementioned possibility, on October 9, 2022, President of Russia Vladimir Putin described the incident as a “terrorist act” organized by Ukraine.[2]

Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014, violating international law. The bridge, built in 2018, was hailed by the Russian media as the “construction of the century.” [3] It held significant meaning for the Russians as the bridge served as a symbol of Russia’s authority over Crimea.

Ukraine aims to reclaim the peninsula. In fact, a few months ago, Oleksi Danilov, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, declared that the Ukrainian Armed Forces would attack the Kerch Bridge, which connects the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula to Russia, if the opportunity presented itself.[4] Podolyak had also stated that the bridge “is an illegal construction and the main gateway to supply the Russian army in Crimea. Such objects should be destroyed.”[5]

Throughout the war, the bridge served as a vital supply route for Russian troops stationed in the south of Ukraine. Since the bridge is Russia’s only supply route to Crimea, the Russian authorities have claimed that the bridge is well-protected against threats from air, land, or water.[6]

The long-awaited strike by Ukraine against Russia finally succeeded on October 8, 2022. However, the success of the attack raises two particularly important questions. First of all, does the attack on the Kerch Bridge suggest that Russia has now genuinely lost the war? Secondly, has the weariness of the Russian soldiers caused them to become weaker and more vulnerable? Russian authorities have asserted that the bridge was subjected to strict surveillance; therefore, the attack on the bridge inflicted considerable damage to Putin’s reputation.

Following the event, Sergey Aksyonov, the Russian-appointed governor of Crimea, informed the media, “The situation is manageable. It is unpleasant, but not fatal.”[7] Although not “fatal,” the situation is depressing from Moscow’s perspective. The attack demoralized the Russian soldiers and dealt a devastating psychological blow to the military of the country. Because now, it will be harder to provide Russia’s fighting components with the logistical assistance they need.

The effective neutralization of the intensely monitored bridge raises the possibility that Russia is no longer able to defend regions that are crucial to the war.

It should also be mentioned that in August 2022, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that the war in Ukraine began with Crimea in 2014 and must end with its liberation.[8] Thus, Kyiv could have wished to convey its intention to retake Crimea through the Kerch Bridge. On October 10, 2022, strikes occurred throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv. With its retaliations, Moscow attempted to demonstrate that it had received the message, but that it had no intention to accept defeat.

Thus, Moscow has shown that it will not hesitate to escalate the war. As demonstrated by the Ukrainian Army’s attack on the Kerch Bridge, Kyiv shares the same resolve. It seems that the collapse of the bridge has motivated Russia to compete for global supremacy in a bid to compensate for the reputational damage it suffered. Currently, the war in Ukraine is referred as a “special operation,” yet, since the Moscow government has already demonstrated that it will not accept defeat, the Kremlin may formally declare war on Kyiv. This is also due to the fact that, with this war, Russia believes it is battling not just Ukraine but also the entire West.

In conclusion, the attack on Kerch Bridge has demonstrated that Ukraine aspires to reestablish its territorial integrity by liberating all the territories that Russia has annexed since 2014, including Crimea, in addition to the areas that were seized during the conflict that started in February 2022. The incident has established that the connection between Russia and Crimea is not that stable. It has also demonstrated that Moscow is unable to safeguard its supply lines. Therefore, the attack not only caused damage to the Kerch Bridge but also to Russia’s reputation. The Kremlin, on the other hand, has ramped up its attacks in an apparent attempt to signal that it will not hold back from escalating the conflict further, indicating that it does not take kindly to any outcome other than victory. It will not be surprising if Russia declares an official war in the coming days.

[1] “Crimea Bridge Partially Reopens after Huge Blast, Russia Says”, BBC,, (Date of Accession: 10.10.2022).

[2] “Russian Divers to Inspect damage to Vital Crimea Bridge Link”, Taken Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 10.10.2022).

[3] “Destruction of Putin’s Bridge to Crimea-Here’s What We Know So Far”, The Debrief,, (Date of Accession: 10.10.2022).

[4] “Kremlin Reacts to Ukrainian Official Saying Russia’s Bridge to Crimea Might be Attacked”, The New Voice of Ukraine,, (Date of Accession: 10.10.2022).

[5] “Ukraine Aiming to Create Chaos within Russian Forces, Zelenskiy Adviser Says”, The Guardian,, (Date of Accession: 10.10.2022).

[6] “Kiev Wants to Destroy Putin’s Bridge in Crimea”, Asia News, destroy-Putin%27s-bridge-in-Crimea-56080.html, (Date of Accession: 10.10.2022).

[7] “Russian Divers to Inspect damage to Vital Crimea Bridge Link”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 10.10.2022).

[8]  “Ukraine War Must End with Liberation of Crimea-Zelensky”, BBC,, (Date of Accession: 10.10.2022).