On April 28, the Russian government allocated 5.7 billion rubles ($68 million) from its reserve fund to support ferry services between the ports of Kerch in Crimea and Kavkaz in Krasnodar Region, according to Russian media. With an imminent Ukrainian counteroffensive the Kremlin is apparently worried there may be a repeat of last October’s attack on the critical Russia-Crimea bridge. Such anxiety in the Russian military can only be heightened following the massive fire at the strategic oil depot in Sevastopol last weekend.
“The Russian occupiers are aware that the bridge across the Kerch Strait has become vulnerable to the high-precision and long-range weapons already available to the Ukrainian armed forces, and therefore they are urgently improving the ferry service between the occupied Crimea and the territory of the Russian Federation” reported Refat Chubarov, Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People and former Member of Parliament of Ukraine on his Facebook page.
Chubarov says these ferries are designed for the evacuation of the Russian army, which will be blocked on the peninsula after the bridge is destroyed.
“Whether the six ferries they have planned to run will be enough to evacuate the demoralized troops who will be stranded on the peninsula [is another question],” he wrote.
Also, Chubarov warns Russian civilians who are illegally staying in Crimea cannot count on the ferries, because it is not enough for nearly a million Russians.
“Again, this decision of the Russian government is another serious signal to the almost 1 million Russian citizens who have illegally settled in the occupied Crimea,” he said. “So, Russian citizens who imagined that they could settle on stolen foreign territory should not rely on ferries. There will be only six of them, which will not be able to evacuate even all the soldiers of the Russian occupation army.”
He also called on Russian citizens to leave urgently the territory of Crimea.
“The sooner you voluntarily leave Crimea, the more trouble you will avoid when the Armed Forces of Ukraine begin to liberate Crimea. There is no point in encroaching on other people's lands.”
On 8 October 2022, a massive fire broke out on the railway track of the Crimean Bridge. The Crimean occupation authorities said a truck allegedly exploded. Later, Russian forces resumed the traffic across the bridge for cars and buses, while trucks have been forced to use ferries or travel by land routes through occupied areas of Ukraine.
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