Ukraine has the chance to deal a strong blow to Russia by striking the Kerch Strait bridge, according to a former NATO commander.
General Philip Breedlove, who served as NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, told The Times on Thursday that the bridge is a “legitimate target.” The Kerch Strait bridge is actually a pair of bridges that run between mainland Russia and Crimea, the peninsula that Russia annexed in 2014.
After Russia recently claimed control of the battleground city of Severodonetsk and the Luhansk region, a high-profile strike on something like the Kerch Strait bridge could benefit Ukraine after months of war. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered all units involved in the Luhansk offensive to pause the invasion so they can “build up strength.”
“The units that took part in active hostilities and achieved success, victories in the Luhansk direction, of course, should rest, increase their combat capabilities,” Putin said.
While the Luhansk units were ordered to rest, Russia’s assault continued in other parts of Ukraine. A July 7 assessment from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), which provides frequent updates on the conflict in Ukraine, said that Russian forces continued to advance toward the city of Slovyansk in the Donetsk region. They made “marginal gains” to the southeast of the Donetsk city of Siversk and continued offensive operations west of the area of Lysychansk, which had been the last major city in Luhansk to be held by Ukraine before Russia announced on Sunday that it had been seized.
Russia’s operations also continued to the south and east of the city of Bakhmut in Donetsk, while Putin’s army conducted a “limited and unsuccessful” attack north of the city of Kharkiv, the ISW said.
Breedlove is not the first to call for the destruction of the Kerch Strait bridge. An opinion piece published in the New York Post by Iulia-Sabina Joja with the Middle East Institute, a nonprofit think tank for which Breedlove is also listed as an expert, said that Ukraine needs to destroy it in order to “sever the strategically important land bridge” that Putin is trying to establish between mainland Russia and Crimea.
“With the land bridge, Moscow can steadily resupply forces and launch attacks into western Ukraine,” Joja wrote.
“To tackle this—and to sever the strategically important land bridge—Ukrainians need long-range rockets and far greater air power supplied by drones and fighter jets. Either MiG-29s and Su-24s or old American F-14s and F-16s will do,” Joja wrote in the article.
Newsweek reached out to the defense ministries of Russia and Ukraine for comment.