Russia Suffers a Hat-Trick of Black Sea Humiliations
Does lethargic Moscow deserve to win this war?
Does lethargic Moscow deserve to win this war?
First, in April, Ukraine hit and sank the Russian cruiser Moskva. Russian MoD countered by saying that Ukrainians were lying and that the cruiser actually caught fire and sank by itself. (Masterful 5D by RUMOD there.)
Then the next month Russia was forced into a symbolic withdrawal from Snake Island after the Ukrainians repeatedly obliterated the rock (now without Moskva’s air defense umbrella) from the air. The tiny Russian garrison suffered painful losses on the island, trying to reinforce the island, and even during the island’s evacuation.
RUMOD countered by saying that after the Russians left the Ukrainians landed on the rock and were themselves decimated by the Russians. Trouble is that where the Ukrainians released numerous videos backing their claims, RUMOD had exactly zero video material to share. (And not because it is above providing gory combat footage which it does daily.)
Now, the Ukrainians have found a way to strike and collapse a portion of the Crimea bridge to the Russian mainland. By the looks of it, the main damage is to the road section of the bridge, which is good news for the Russians because rail is much more critical to their long-range military logistics.
Nonetheless, this fits into a pattern where the Russians are constantly allowing themselves to be caught by surprise by Ukrainian capabilities, ingenuity, and determination, and suffering humiliating setbacks in turn.
The Ukrainians were not supposed to be able to sink the Moskva. That is why the Russian ship had been sailing in predictable patterns for weeks. Yet Ukraine (with US intel aid of course) was able to somehow leverage its extremely limited anti-ship capabilities (whole country had six anti-ship missile launchers and 72 missiles) to surprise the Black Sea admirals.
Kiev was then able to leverage cheapish, expendable Turkey-made drones into another morale-boosting victory on Snake Island, at a time when its forces were still everywhere on the back foot. (Albeit at the cost of not putting them to perhaps more tactically-significant use in the east.)
Now, Ukraine has been able to strike at the Crimea bridge in what appears to be another asymmetrical attack. This is all the more significant when you consider that Ukraine controls many more juicy bridge targets than does Russia.
Ukraine holds a dozen Dnieper bridges and half-a-dozen dam locks over the river. And yet Russia with all its might and far greater capabilities has not found the will or the way to target and eliminate any of them. (I hold that whether the bridges stand is increasingly a moot point, but early in the war denying Ukraine the use of crossing points especially in the south would have been very helpful.)
Russia meanwhile controls just two crossing points across the Dnieper both of which are being relentlessly HIMARS-ed.
The third Russian-controlled bridge in the theater that has strategic value, the Crimea bridge, was thought to be outside Ukrainian missile range (it is), yet the Ukrainians once again somehow found a way to get around that.
Ironically it is the side that has far less firepower to conduct a war on bridges that is conducting it with more determination and far more results.
At this point, the question arises does Russia deserve to win this war? Moscow presents itself as the East Slavic capital that will be the better custodian of places like Nikolayev and Odessa than Kiev — which is too Nazi or too transgender, or too whatever — has been.
But what we see in practice, over and over again, is Moscow that is lethargic and indecisive, and Kiev that is brimming with vitality and determination.
Why is it that Ukrainians who have far more bridges to lose, are schooling the Russians in how you blow them up?
However it is that the Ukrainians collapsed the Crimea bridge, why is it that the Russians weren’t able to come up with the same (or a different) plan seven months ago to use against the equally strategic Dnieper bridges?
And it’s not just that the Russian effort has been half-assed and half-hearted. It is also that because the Russian decision-makers are lethargic they expect the enemy to also be lethargic, and are then surprised and humiliated when that is not the case.
Moskva, Snake Island, and Crimea bridge can all be discounted as PR victories. That to an extent is true. If the railway section is still up none of this actually influences the course of the war materially. But if these are mere “PR victories” then where are Russia’s equivalents? Where is an example of the Russians having surprised, shocked and terrified NATO with a feat of ingenuity, determination, or fanaticism of their own in this war? Is it when they proclaimed Liman part of the Russian state only to lose it the very next day?
Kremlin can narrate a story where Kiev is a nest of sellouts to the US, where in Moscow are the last true Slavs. But what you see in practice is the exact opposite. You see the Ukrainians fighting like they’re the Soviets reincarnated, and you see the Russians led by a confused, disillusioned ex-Westernizer who didn’t realize the other side (in Kiev and DC both) possesses the single-minded clarity that he so sorely lacks.
It is true that Ukrainians (Little Russians) are receiving Western aid but they are also leveraging that aid to great and disproportionate effect.
Imagine if Kiev didn’t have at its disposal the pittance that West provides it with, but instead the full firepower of Russia — imagine how much more could Zelensky and Zaluzhny do with that than has Moscow. Put them in the Kremlin and by now Russian armies would not be bogged down in no-name villages of Donentsk but making the West tremble on the borders of Germany.
I jest but only a little. Discounting the means, a Russian-Ukrainian union can not be anything but a good thing. A larger East Slav entity is likelier to enjoy a free, independent development than a smaller one. But for seven months straight now Putin has been providing us with arguments why it would be advantageous if such a union was led from Kiev, by people who are a lot more like Zelensky (whom he has made to look like a ruthless and effective Georgiy Zhukov) and a lot less than him.
Very clear view of the vehicle portion of the bridge that collapsed and the railway portion on fire. pic.twitter.com/fYsLJuHRcE
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) October 8, 2022
If it was the truck that exploded, then it is interesting to note that it originated from the Russian side and not the Crimean side of the bridge.
I do not know if security is as strict on this side of the bridge or they mainly focus on vehicles leaving Crimea. pic.twitter.com/92yRkHXlj9
— Oliver Alexander (@OAlexanderDK) October 8, 2022
It seems at least three spans of the bridge have collapsed. Two at the location where a train is burning (location 1), and another further to the east (location 2). pic.twitter.com/aIz0rl48kf
— Nick Waters (@N_Waters89) October 8, 2022
Konashenkov will announce today that 3,000 tanks, 400 planes and 1,000 NATO mercenaries have been destroyed.Regrouping of Crimean bridge going according to plan… pic.twitter.com/SBplUIaRgL
— ZOKA (@200_zoka) October 8, 2022