Ukrainian ATACMS tactical missile punched a big hole in the Avangard ferry in Kerch

The Ukrainian Defense Forces successfully struck a Russian ferry crossing in the temporarily occupied Crimea. This was reported by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The strike was reportedly carried out with ATACMS ballistic missiles. They targeted the Kerch ferry, which was actively used by the enemy for its troops.

One by one, Ukraine has struck each of these supply lines. The most recent to get hit was the ferry crossing. On Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, the Ukrainian army’s American-made Army Tactical Missile System precision-guided rockets struck the ferry landing in Crimea, damaging if not destroying two ferries: one for hauling cars and trucks, another for transporting trains.

Satellite imagery confirmed the damage. The ferry crossing “was actively used by the enemy to support their grouping of troops in the temporarily occupied Crimea,” the Ukrainian general staff reported.

But it’s not clear how much the southern troops relied on the ferries. The flat-bottomed vessels were always a backup to more secure and voluminous modes of transportation. And the most secure and voluminous of those, the southern railway, is intact—and extremely difficult to destroy.

All that is to say, blowing up a couple of Russian ferries might please friends of a free Ukraine. But it won’t do much to actually harm the Russian regiments and brigades in occupied southern Ukraine.

Strikes on the Kerch crossings “are more political than military and aim to put pressure on Putin in front of the Russian people,” Mick Ryan, a retired Australian army general, wrote in his newsletter.

Ukraine’s campaign targeting Russian logistics in southern Ukraine has grown in scale and sophistication since the early weeks of Russia’s 27-month wider war on Ukraine.

First the Ukrainians began targeting—with rockets, Storm Shadow and SCALP cruise missiles and explosive drone boats—the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s cargo-hauling landing ships, ultimately sinking or damaging most of the roughly dozen vessels.

Last summer, Ukrainian forces bombed and damaged the Crimean Bridge. It took Russian engineers six months to fully restore the spans. And this week, the Ukrainians finally targeted the ferry crossing.

The distance from the front line to the ferry landing, around 150 miles, strongly implies the Ukrainian army fired some of its new M48 or M57 ATACMS, respectively ranging 170 and 190 miles with a 470-pound warhead.

Ukraine got M48s or M57s as part of its second big batch of a hundred or more ATACMS back in April. An earlier batch of a couple of dozen ATACMS, last year, only included M39 models with cluster warheads—a thousand grenade-sized submunitions—and a 100-mile range.

The farther-flying ATACMS have devastated Russian airfields, air-defense batteries and docked warships across Crimea. That they pose a serious threat to ferries should come as no surprise.

But it’s unclear how much it really matters any more. Perhaps sensing the coming Ukrainian deep-strike campaign, last summer the Kremlin expedited construction on a new 50-mile stretch of railroad connecting existing rail lines in Russian-occupied eastern and southern Ukraine.

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