Sunday, May 19, 2024

Russia warns West of ‘retaliatory blow’

Any Western-backed Ukrainian attack against "Russia’s Crimean Bridge or Crimea itself" will be met with a powerful revenge strike from Moscow, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has cautioned.

The warning follows a recent post by Ukraine’s envoy to the UN, Sergey Kislitsa, which had a threatening tone, implying that the bridge connecting the Russian peninsula to the Krasnodar Region will not be standing by the end of the year.

According to Zakharova, Kiev is openly preparing for a new attack on the Crimean Bridge, with the support of the West. She told a press briefing on Friday that, on the eve of May 9, Russia’s annual Great Victory Day commemorating the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, “the Kiev regime and its Western masters are hatching plans for new terrorist attacks on Russian territory.”

“I would like to again warn Washington, London, Brussels, that any aggressive actions against Crimea are not only doomed to failure, but will also be met with a retaliatory blow,” the diplomat said.

Moscow had earlier condemned British Foreign Secretary David Cameron’s remarks, which he delivered while visiting Kiev, that Ukraine has the right to use weapons provided by London to strike targets on Russian territory.

According to Zakharova, Kiev is now expecting the arrival of US-made F-16 fighter jets, which could be used to destroy the 11-mile (18-km) road and rail bridge.

Senior Ukrainian officials have declared the destruction of the Crimean Bridge, also known as Kerch Bridge, as a priority throughout their country’s conflict with Moscow, claiming it is a legitimate military target.

On Wednesday, Kislitsa issued a post on X (formerly Twitter), sharing a picture of a “2024 list of six Main Types of Bridges”. The example labeled “Kerch” showed an empty space.

Last week, Lithuania’s ambassador to Sweden, Linas Linkevicius, suggested on social media that the US supply of ATACMS missiles would result in the destruction of the Crimean Bridge. The senior diplomat urged people to take selfies with the structure while they still can.

Moscow completed the structure spanning the Kerch Strait in 2020. Crimea voted to break away from Ukraine and to rejoin Russia in 2014, following the US-backed coup in Kiev earlier that year.

Since 2022, when long-simmering tensions between the neighboring states turned to open fighting, Kiev’s forces have repeatedly targeted the Crimean Bridge. In October of that year, the structure suffered a major bombing attack that killed five civilians. In another strike last July, one of the bridge’s sections was blown up, killing two people and wounding a child.

Moscow considers Ukrainian threats and tactics as confirmation that using military force against its neighbor was the correct decision. Russian officials have also suggested that Kiev has escalated its sabotage and bombing campaigns because of its battlefield failures.

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