Kyiv Post:  There are increasing rumors that a major attack on the Karch Bridge connecting Russia to Crimea is imminent. How high do you think the chances are that such an attack is actually imminent and could be successful? At what point in time?

Andreas Umland: This now seems possible insofar as the Ukrainian army can reach the Kerch Bridge with the ATACMS missiles. However, the question arises as to whether the power of the warheads of the American missiles already makes such an attack worthwhile. As I understand it, Ukraine requested the Taurus cruise missiles from Germany to destroy the Kerch Bridge. In this respect, this may be a technical rather than tactical or strategic decision for Kyiv, depending on the assessment of the chances of success of bombing the bridge with the ATACMS.


Kyiv Post: How well prepared is Russia for such an attack?

Andreas Umland: The Kremlin wants to avoid destroying the bridge for a number of reasons, and there is a considerable military infrastructure to protect the Kerch Bridge. While the importance of the bridge as a supply route for the Russian army has recently declined, the symbolic significance of the structure for Putin and his regime remains high. In addition to the great importance of the bridge as a supply route for the Russian army, the symbolic significance of the structure for Putin and his regime is high. It would be an enormous embarrassment for the Kremlin if Ukraine were to succeed in rendering the bridge unusable or even causing it to collapse. Moscow will therefore do everything it can to avoid or fend off such an attack. There are now even suggestions that Russia is threatening to use tactical nuclear weapons in response to the attack on the bridge.

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Kyiv Post: Do you see the delivery of ATACMS as a game changer for Ukraine when it comes to Crimea and the Kerch Bridge?

Andreas Umland: This is also a question for missile technicians and warhead experts rather than political scientists. Until now, only the Taurus cruise missiles were considered suitable for destroying the bridge. This may also be the reason for the German government's decision to withhold the delivery of these German weapons to Ukraine. I could imagine that Moscow has threatened Berlin with some kind of "retaliation" in this case.


Kyiv Post: What consequences would a successful large-scale attack on the Crimean bridge have for Putin?

Andreas Umland: There have already been several Ukrainian attacks on the bridge. The question is more about the consequences of a possible destruction of the structure. This would be problematic for Russian troops in Crimea and southern mainland Ukraine as well as for Putin's image within Russia. It is also possible that the high domestic political salience of the Crimea issue is the reason for Moscow's recently renewed threat to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

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