Ex-NATO Commander Sics Ukraine to Bomb Crimean Bridge
16:13 GMT 08.07.2022 (Updated: 17:41 GMT 08.07.2022)
© Sputnik / Andrej KrylovA cargo ship blocks a passage under the arch of the Crimean bridge over Kerch Strait in Russia, November 25, 2018
© Sputnik / Andrej Krylov/
Since the beginning of the Russian military operation in February, Ukraine has threatened to target the Crimean Bridge (also referred to as the Kerch Bridge) that connects the peninsula to Russia's mainland multiple times.
General Philip Breedlove, who served as NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe from 2013 to 2016, has urged Ukraine to bomb the Crimean Bridge, claiming it is a "legitimate target".
"It doesn’t surprise me at all that the Russians are concerned about Kerch Bridge. It’s incredibly important to them," the commander said. "Now that the West has given Ukraine Harpoon missiles [with a range of up to 200 miles] I think the Russians have every reason to be worried about Ukraine launching an attack on the bridge."
Breedlove said he does not understand those opposing "such an aggressive action".
"I hear a lot of people asking whether it is right for Ukraine to take such aggressive action and whether the West would support it but I cannot understand that argument," he asserted. "Russia has invaded Ukraine and has launched attacks not just from inside Ukraine but also from Russia, Belarus, Crimea and the Black Sea," he went on to allege.
Both Moscow and Minsk have denied Belarus' involvement in the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
NATO and Speaking From Experience
Breedlove's suggestion regarding the Crimean Bridge falls in line with NATO's history with civilian infrastructure.
During its 1999 bombings of Yugoslavia, the alliance did not shy away from unleashing its military forces against civilian targets such as bridges, hospitals, schools, industrial plants and even cultural monuments. Human Rights Watch concluded that the Yugoslavia assault left "as few as 489 and as many as 528 Yugoslav civilians killed in the ninety separate incidents in Operation Allied Force".
Amid its military intervention of Libya, NATO also used a similar approach, with its attacks targeting hospitals, restaurants, and even people’s houses. In May 2012, Human Rights Watch reported that at least 72 civilians were killed during the NATO air campaign in the Middle Eastern country.
Bruce Gagnon, director of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, said that the NATO tactic to target civilian infrastructure is "what bullies do".
"The US-UK-NATO are desperate and this desperation makes them even more dangerous. They have no respect for life, even though they routinely accuse others of the same," he says.
He went on to note that the West don't actually "care" about the people of Ukraine, with the country being "used as a tool to destabilize and demonize Russia".
"When Washington and Brussels say this will be a long war in Ukraine I believe they mean it. At the same time it must be wondered how long the west can keep this proxy war going as their own economies begin to collapse due to blow-back from their sanctions on Russia," Gagnon said.
Crimean Bridge in the Crosshairs?
This is not the first time that threats against the Crimean Bridge emerge in the wake of the military operation. There were rumors that Ukraine planned to attack the bridge on 9 May, when Russia celebrated Victory Day.
Officials in Crimea and from mainland Russia have repeatedly warned against any aggressive action towards the Crimean Bridge, saying that attacking it would be nothing short of a "terrorist act".
The Kremlin has stated that all necessary security measures are being taken to keep the bridge safe.
However, new calls to attack the bridge should not be brushed off, according to Gagnon.
"The US-UK-NATO war on Ukraine and Russia has been a disaster so they are looking for ways to make it appear they are still in the game. Thus the Kerch Bridge becomes a possible target," he said.
The Crimean Bridge was officially opened in May 2018, becoming an essential piece of infrastructure connecting Crimea with mainland Russia. Aside from a highway, it also has a parallel railway bridge between Crimea and the Taman Peninsula of Russia’s Krasnodar Krai.
Crimea was incorporated into the Russian Federation in March 2014, when the overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted to reunite with Russia. Ukraine still considers the peninsula to be its territory under "temporary occupation". Despite the Kremlin underlining that the results of the 2014 referendum fell in line with the international law and were obtained through a democratic procedure, western countries refused to accept it and slapped sanctions on Moscow.
After Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in February, the West imposed additional sanctions and condemned Moscow for what it deems to be an invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin, in turn, said that the goal of the military operation was to "demilitarize and de-Nazify" the neighboring country.