Russia limits the transportation of military cargo via the railway section of the Crimea bridge

Video grab on July 17, 2023, shows the heavily damaged Kerch bridge after an attack by Kyiv. Russia is now rerouting military deliveries that had gone into Ukraine via the occupied peninsula, according to satellite imagery.

Russia appears to be no longer transporting military cargo for its war effort via the railway section of the Crimean Bridge following repeated strikes by Ukraine.

The 12-mile crossing comprising a four-lane road and a double-track railway, links Russia’s Krasnodar region with the peninsula Vladimir Putin illegally annexed in 2014. It is not just a symbol of Moscow’s occupation but also a key supply route for forces fighting in their full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

And attacks on the structure, also known as the Kerch Bridge, have hampered logistical supplies for Moscow’s military effort in Ukraine. On July 17, 2023, a strike destroyed part of both the road and railway sections of the bridge and Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) released a video of the attack. Kremlin outlets said the damage could be repaired within three months.

However, Molfar, an open-source intelligence agency based in Kyiv, has said that its analysis of Maxar satellite imagery over two periods in the past year shows Russia rerouting military supplies.

The first period Molfar looked at was between May and September 2023, during which freight and passenger trains had crossed the railway section of the bridge.

SBU head Vasyl Maliuk said in March 2024 that before last July’s attack, the frequency of trains carrying weapons and ammunition had decreased from up to 46 trains per day to only four or five.

But Molfar found that no freight trains carrying military equipment have been detected on the railway section of the bridge in March and April this year. In February, only one freight train carrying fuel tanks crossed the bridge but Molfar could not confirm whether any military equipment was on board.

“There is no reason to hit the bridge any more because the SBU has cut off all military logistics travelling over it,” Artem Starosiek, CEO and founder of Molfar told Newsweek. However, Russia is transporting supplies from Russia into Ukraine via new routes in territory it currently occupies.

“Speaking as a Ukrainian, I would still choose to hit the bridge because it has symbolic meaning,” he said, “but speaking from the position of military analyst, I think it’s better to hit the railway because it’s much more dangerous.”

In November 2023, Moscow-backed outlets reported that by the end of 2024, Russia plans to link its city of Rostov-on-Don with Crimea in a route that takes in occupied cities of Berdyansk and Mariupol. The first freight trains reportedly travelled on it in March.

British newspaper The Times also reported Moscow’s railway plans between Rostov and its occupied cities in Ukraine.

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