The Kerch bridge.
What severing the Crimea from mainland Russia does and doesn’t mean.
The destruction of the Kerch bridge is a turning point in a month crowded with them. It is extraordinary to reflect upon just how rapidly events have unfolded: in just over thirty days, the Ukrainians have liberated the entire region adjoining Kharkiv, the Ukrainians have (probably) begun the collapse of the Kherson pocket, the Russians (well, probably the Russians) have destroyed the Nordstream pipelines, and now this. Of course, it is not all good news. Just over thirty days ago, we were also not talking seriously about American policy in a nuclear war.
We should understand what the bridge’s severance does and does not signify. It does not signify an imminent Ukrainian invasion of the Crimea. I remain skeptical that this will ever happen for a host of reasons. One is that there is evidence the Russian regime regards Crimea as qualitatively different from the Donbas and environs. This may mean an attempt at its reoccupation is the nuclear red line: maydoes a lot of work here, and believe no one who claims to know.
The other major reason I am skeptical is that Crimea is simply difficult to take in general: ask everyone who has tried to take it across the past several thousand years. The most recent battlefield contestants for Crimea, the Nazis and the Soviets, left a record of grim contention that was appalling and extraordinary even by their sanguinary standards. Crimea is accessible only by a narrow and eminently defensible isthmus, or by amphibious assault. The Ukrainians have shown no capability for the latter. As for the former, the jury is out. Even if the lesson of the recent past is to not underestimate Ukrainian capacity or Russian incapacity, we should be hesitant to assume either in this theater. In any case, the Ukrainians are nowhere near this decision point.
So why is the Kerch bridge dropped into the sea?
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