World at War
“Declaration Of War Without Rules”: Russian Officials Fume Over Crimea Bridge Blast As Ukraine Celebrates
Ukrainian government sources have owned up to the attack, but this claim of responsibility stopped short of being made publicly or officially
Update(1435ET): Russia’s state Investigative Committee has put out a statement saying at least three civilians died as a result of the attack on the Crimean Bridge, which was likely a fertilizer-laden truck bombing. “According to preliminary data, three people died as a result of the incident.
They were presumably passengers of a car, which was near the exploded track. As of now, the bodies of a man and a women have been recovered from the water, their identities are being established,” the committee said. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova at the same time blasted what she called the “criminal logic” of some NATO officials who are positively cheering the attack.
Ukrainian government sources have owned up to the attack, but this claim of responsibility stopped short of being made publicly or officially: “A Ukrainian government official told The Washington Post that the country’s special services were behind the attack, though Kyiv stopped short of saying it was responsible — even as top officials taunted Moscow.” As for the taunting and trolling, the official Twitter account for the government of Ukraine also tweeted out:
A fire which had raged for hours at the scene, particularly freight which had been on the rail part of the bridge that had burned out of control, now appears to be out – allowing Russian investigators to view the full extent of the damage.
A large section of bridge which has been vital to Russian military supply lines has been totally collapsed, with entire sections of roadway having fallen into the water below.
One or two lanes of the bridge weren’t directly impacted, with reports that this section of bridge has already resumed traffic, with the Kremlin saying ferry traffic is to assist in transporting more.
In the aftermath of the major attack on Russian infrastructure, there’s growing speculation that President Vladimir Putin could be poised to declare full war on Ukraine, escalating far past the currently dubbed “special operation”. Some prominent Russian politicians are loudly calling for an equal response to Ukraine’s own “declaration of war” in the attack, according to state media sources:
“The terrorist attack on the Crimean Bridge is no longer just a challenge, but a declaration of war without rules,” said Russia’s State Duma on October 8 after an explosion rocked the Kerch Strait crossing earlier this morning.
Speaking to RIA Novosti, Deputy Oleg Morozov said that the explosion was “a blatant terrorist war is being waged against us.”
…if there is no “adequate” response, such acts of aggression would be more likely to occur. “If we keep silent in response and do not give an adequate response, such terrorist attacks will multiply,” he said.
At the same time, many war observers are wondering, is this the start of Zelensky’s declared intent to take back Crimea?
By all appearances, Putin is preparing for greater escalation in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, and after weeks of reports and indicators that Russian lines are being rapidly pushed back in the east and south amid the major Ukraine counteroffensive. On Saturday a new overall commander for Russian forces in Ukraine has been announced. “Russia has appointed a notorious general who opened fire on pro-democracy protesters in the 1990s as its first overall commander for the war in Ukraine, as the Kremlin struggles to halt a Ukrainian counteroffensive that has left its forces in disarray,” The Guardian writes.
“The appointment of Gen Sergei Surovikin came on the same day as Vladimir Putin was dealt a humiliating blow after an explosion on the Kerch bridge sank a section of the motorway into the Kerch Strait and caused a major fire on the railway,” the publication confirmed. “Surovikin is a veteran commander who led the Russian military expedition in Syria in 2017, where he was accused of using ‘controversial’ tactics including indiscriminate bombing against anti-government fighters.”
* * *
Russian authorities said that an explosion involving a truck on Saturday caused a fire and destroyed a section of a bridge linking Russia and Crimea. The bridge is regarded as a key supply route for Russian troops in southern Ukraine.
The Crimean Bridge – also called Kerch Strait Bridge or Kerch Bridge – is a structure 19 kilometers (12 miles) in length that passes across the Kerch Strait and links southern Russia to the Crimean Peninsula. The Kerch Strait links the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
The Epoch Times’ Mimi Nguyen reports that a truck exploded on the bridge around 6 a.m. local time. Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee announced that the explosion caused a fire on the parallel rail section, where seven railway cars carrying fuel caught fire. The blast also caused a “partial collapse of two sections of the bridge.”
A spokesperson from the Russian Highways State Company (Avtodor) told the TASS news agency that the movement of vehicles across the Crimean Bridge has been temporarily suspended, adding at the time that “personnel of the Russian emergencies ministry and the road service are working on the site to contain the blaze.” The fire has since been extinguished.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was informed about the explosion and he ordered the creation of a government panel to deal with the emergency.
While the bridge undergoes repair, a ferry service will be provided later on Saturday. Crimea’s Head Sergey Aksyonov said on Telegram, per TASS: “A ferry service is ready to be launched, it will start operating later today. We will announce a timetable later.”
The Crimean Peninsula is key to sustaining Russia’s military operations in the south. If the bridge is made inoperable, it would make it significantly more challenging to ferry supplies to the peninsula. While Russia seized the areas north of Crimea early during the invasion and built a land corridor to it along the Sea of Azov, Ukraine is pressing a counteroffensive to reclaim them.
The explosion on the Crimean Bridge took place hours after multiple explosions early Saturday hit the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which triggered a series of secondary explosions. The city’s mayor, Ihor Terekhov, said that the series of explosions were due to missile strikes aimed at the center of the city, which caused fires at one of Kharkiv’s medical institutions, as well as a nonresidential building. No reports of casualties were noted.
Bridge Explosion Is the ‘Beginning’: Ukraine Official
While no one has yet to explicitly claim public responsibility for the attack, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s aide, Mikhail Podoliak, posted on Twitter saying the explosion is “the beginning.”
“Crimea, the bridge, the beginning. Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled,” he wrote in English.
Podoliak previously in August threatened the bridge, telling The Guardian that the bridge is “an illegal construction and the main gateway to supply the Russian army in Crimea” and that “such objects should be destroyed.”
Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials have also previously stated that Ukraine will use force to retake Crimea.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 after a vast majority of people in Crimea had voted in a referendum in March 2014 to reunite with Russia and secede from Ukraine. The vote took place after anti-Russia, pro-E.U. factions overthrew then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s government, which wasn’t against Russia, in an armed coup in February 2014.
The referendum was condemned by the United States and the European Union, with the latter saying in a statement (pdf) that the poll was “illegal and illegitimate.” Both the United States and the E.U. issued sanctions in response to the vote.
The Crimean Bridge, a $3.69 billion (230 billion rubles) project, was constructed following the annexation of Crimea. Russia opened the first part of the span to car traffic in May 2018. The parallel bridge for rail traffic opened the following year. Before the bridge’s existence, the Crimean Peninsula could only be reached from Russia by sea or air.
It was Russia’s only land link to the peninsula until Russian forces later seized more Ukrainian territory on the northern end of the Sea of Azov in heavy fighting, particularly around the city of Mariupol, earlier in 2022.This post was originally published at Zero Hedge
World at War
Satellite Image Reveals Supersonic Drone At Chinese Military Base
There are increasing fears that China may invade Taiwan in the next several years. An image captured by a satellite and obtained by Defense News reveals what appears to be a next-generation unmanned aerial vehicle that Beijing could use in future conflicts.
The delta-shaped UAV “appears to be a WZ-8 supersonic reconnaissance drone parked outside one of two newly built hangars at China’s Lu’an Airbase,” Defense News said. Planet Labs, a US satellite-imaging company, photographed the spy drone on Dec. 21, which was recently shared with the military blog.
The satellite image, provided to Defense News by Planet Labs, shows Lu’an Airbase in China’s Anhui province. The previously unoccupied base is undergoing an upgrade, with construction beginning sometime between April 2018 and early 2019. Improvements include the resurfacing of the 3,200-meter (3,500-yard) runway, the widening of taxiways, and the construction of 20 bomber-sized aircraft shelters and two hangars to replace open aircraft parking bays.
Here’s the satellite image of the spy drone.
In a separate image, the drone was recently unveiled at a military parade.
Last month, a secret document from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency said the Chinese military could soon deploy a high-altitude spy drone that travels at Mach 3, or three times the speed of sound, at an altitude of 100,000 feet. The document was seen by The Washington Post in April and initially posted on a Discord server by a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.
According to Andreas Rupprecht, who studies Chinese military aviation, the spy drone was seen at Lu’an Airbase, home to the 29th Air Regiment of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s 10th Bomber Division.
US defense officials are concerned the new drone could expand China’s surveillance capacity in the Indo-Pacific region and around Taiwan.
China has been rapidly modernizing its military forces over the last decade as then commander of the Indo-Pacific Command, Philip Davidson, warned in 2021 at a US Senate hearing that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s invasion of Taiwan could occur by 2027.This post was originally published at Zero Hedge
World at War
Ukraine Claims Russian Hypersonic Missile Shot Down Using US Patriot System
In an alleged first which is no doubt making US Congressional hawks very proud, Ukraine says it has intercepted a Russian ballistic missile for the first time using a US-made anti-air defense system. What’s more, and perhaps the more dubious aspect, is that it was a hypersonic missile shot down over Kiev, according to top Ukrainian officials.
Commander of Ukraine’s air force, Mykola Oleshchuk, announced in a Saturday Telegram post that a Russian Kinzhal, or Kh-47, was inbound until being successfully intercepted using American Patriot missiles. The intercept occurred Thursday night in what’s the first time known time Patriot defenses were put into successful use by Ukraine.
Moscow has long touted its hypersonic ballistic missiles as essentially “impossible to intercept” given the projectile can travel at 10 times the speed of sound with a range of up to 2,000 kilometers (or about 1,250 miles).
According to the top Ukrainian commander’s words:
“Yes, we shot down the ‘unique’ Kinzhal,” Oleshchuk stated. “It happened during the night time attack on May 4 in the skies of the Kyiv region.”
Oleshchuk said the Kh-47 missile was launched by a MiG-31K aircraft from the Russian territory and was shot down with a Patriot missile.
And a separate statement from Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat taunted the Russians while boasting of the US Patriot’s proven capabilities:
“They were saying that the Patriot is an outdated American weapon, and Russian weapons are the best in the world,” Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said on Ukraine’s Channel 24 television. “Well, there is confirmation that it effectively works against even a super hypersonic missile.” Ihnat said.
He said successfully intercepting the Kinzhal is “a slap in the face for Russia.”
It was only late last month that Ukraine confirmed delivery of the first Patriot batteries from the United States, though an unknown quantity, alongside anti-air systems from Germany and the Netherlands.
More self-congratulations from Ukraine’s top brass was issued Saturday follows:
“I congratulate the Ukrainian people on a historic event,” Lt. Gen. Mykola Oleshchuk, the commander of the Ukrainian air force, said in a statement posted on the Telegram messaging app. “Yes, we have shot down the ‘unparalleled’ ‘Kinzhal.'”
It should be noted that amid the atmosphere of heavy war propaganda and disinformation which is part and parcel of modern conflict, even The New York Times has expressed caution in its headline, “Ukraine Claims It Shot Down Russia’s Most Sophisticated Missile for First Time.”
The Times describes, “The U.S. officials said they were relying on information from the Ukrainian military coming through classified channels, but added they had no reason to doubt its authenticity.”
“Nevertheless, independent analysts were reluctant to confirm the interception until more information was available about the type of missile Russia fired and whether it was hit by a Patriot,” the report notes.
One Moscow-based analyst was quick to dismiss the reports as “fake news”…
Meanwhile, Russia’s air war is likely only to heat up further, given also on Saturday the defense ministry said Ukraine sent two ballistic missiles into Crimea. “A ballistic missile launched by Ukraine’s Hrim-2 OTRK was shot down over the Republic of Crimea by the air defense,” a top Crimean official announced.
Sputnik further quoted him as follows: “Russia’s air defense systems on Saturday shot down two ballistic missiles launched by Ukraine’s Grom-2 operational-tactical missile system (OTRK) over Crimea, Oleg Kryuchkov, an adviser to Head of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov, said on Saturday.”This post was originally published at Zero Hedge
World at War
Former CIA Officer Says Decision to Drone Attack Kremlin Was Made by the United States
Deadly escalation an effort to provoke major Russian response.
Former CIA intelligence officer Larry Johnson says the decision to launch a drone attack on the Kremlin was made by the United States.
The Wednesday attack, which was likely to have been targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin, was stopped by electronic warfare systems which disabled the drones before they could reach their target.
According to Johnson, the attack must have been spearheaded by the Biden administration and the US military-industrial complex because “decisions on such attacks are made not in Kiev, but in Washington.”
“Washington should understand clearly that we know this,” Johnson told reporters.
Although the attack, which Ukraine denied it was involved in, failed to accomplish its tactical goal, it was still highly “symbolic,” according to Johnson.
KREMLIN DRONE ATTACK
– Russia says two Ukrainian drones attacked Kremlin overnight
– Drones downed with no victims or material damage to the Kremlin
– Moscow says it was a terrorist attack and attempt on Putin's life
– Russia says it reserves right to respond when and how it… pic.twitter.com/loZA6c3Fvd
— The Spectator Index (@spectatorindex) May 3, 2023
“[It] didn’t cause significant damage. The psychological impact, though, there are people that disagree on this, my view is that this is going to galvanize Russia, not create fear or discontent or division. There are others who believe that by doing this, it is going to portray Russia as weak and create internal problems. I simply note that the reactions of former [Russian] President [Dmitry] Medvedev, as well as members of the Duma – they are livid, they are outraged, and calling for escalatory retaliation against Ukraine. So I think in many respects this backfired,” said the former State Department official.
He also added that the attack smacked of desperation and was an attempt to provoke Russia into a major escalation “to get the United States more deeply involved in this conflict.”
“At the same time, I think, Washington correctly notes that they try to discourage this [escalation], because they recognize that it’s spun out of control. And the United States is in no position militarily to confront Russia and survive that confrontation,” Johnson said.
Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. denounced the attempted drone attack as a dangerous escalation.
“Imagine how we would respond if Russian-backed forces launched a drone strike on the Capitol. We must stop these deranged attempts to escalate the war,” said Kennedy.
“After successfully defusing the Cuban Missile Crisis, President John Kennedy warned against ever again forcing Russia to choose between national humiliation and nuclear war. We should heed his advice,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ukraine continued its drone bombardment by targeting an oil refinery in Krasnodar Region in southern Russia on Friday morning.
A fire broke out, but it was quickly extinguished by authorities and no one was hurt.
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