Russia’s military strategy: what is the real purpose of Kerch Strait Bridge?
The Kerch Strait bridge was not completed even for the elections of 2018, and in fact it was initially obvious that this was an element of Putin’s election agitation.
With the approaching presidential elections in Russia even for those Crimeans who relied on “stones from the sky” and were ready to “die in their homeland” the bitterness is growing because of the main hope for a sweet life is not being realized. The Kerch bridge was not completed even for the elections of 2018, and in fact it was initially obvious that this was an element of Putin’s election agitation. And, of course, the excellent opportunity for the oligarchs close to him to be enriched at the expense of budget funds allocated for the construction of the bridge crossing. According to the traditions of Russian propaganda, a ribbon on a brand new bridge was to be cut in the last visit of Putin to the annexed peninsula. But the “construction of the century” clearly went wrong, and the inhabitants of the Crimea will have to wait. Bridge has to be completed in 2019, despite the gloomy predictions of scientists.
Informational Resistance investigate try the real purpose in addition to PR of the notorious bridge construction by Putin. To begin with, let’s go through the official justifications and benefits that the occupants “draw” in the case of the project implementation.
Truth or lie
1. The Russian side assures that the bridge stimulates the growth of the economy of Crimea due to the increased efficiency of transport connection. The Russian government believes that the bridge will make the income of the inhabitants of the peninsula four (!) times higher.
Actually, only in Russia real incomes of citizens for two years decreased by almost 10%. In the Crimea the situation is even more complicated. So the promises of an increase in this case is nothing more than numbers game.
2. The bridge transition will allegedly provide a rapid development of tourism.
In reality, according to the results of the 2015-17 years, the flow of guests in Crimea is significantly reduced. And the main reason is not the absence of a railway communication through Ukraine. It’s another matter, in particular, the lack of normal service, the difficulties with water and electricity, inflated prices, the militarization of the peninsula, and the specific attitude of locals to Russian tourists. In addition, the flow of visitors always has a seasonal nature, as well as income from it.
3. The bridge allegedly will give a push to the development of agriculture in the occupied Crimea, ensuring the export of products across the bridge.
In reality, without water from the North Crimean Canal, Crimea’s agriculture has fallen into decay, and the bridge will not help here. The area of irrigated land on the peninsula, according to the “government” of the Crimea, decreased by 10 times – from 130,000 hectares in February 2014 to 13,000 hectares in 2016. Losses due to lack of water are 14 billion rubles a year. And the issue of the water blockade turned out to be so painful that Russia raised it at a meeting of the UN Security Council in November 2016. Lack of water forced the Crimean agrarians to completely abandon the cultivation of moisture-loving crops – rice, corn and soy. The cultivation of peas also decreased. The liberated land is used for growing drought-resistant crops.
4. The development of the chemical industry due to the development of the “Crimean Titan” will be ensured. It is believed that the growth of the business of the largest producer of titanium dioxide in Europe depends on the bridge, that after the blockade of the Crimea, refused to import raw materials from Ukraine and now receives raw materials from Sri Lanka to the port of Novorossiysk, but the delivery costs more because of the transfer through the Kerch ferry. The chemical giant itself now controls about 20% of the Russian market for basic raw materials for paints, so it also needs cheap transport options for delivering products to consumers in mainland Russia.
Actually, the capacity of the plant is not enough to significantly affect the volume of cargo transportation on the bridge and its profitability.
5. The development of shipbuilding and ship repair is another fairy tale from the invaders. Shipbuilding enterprises of the annexed Crimea are included in the “United Shipbuilding Corporation” and depend on the delivery of large-scale equipment for ships, which is produced in mainland Russia. Therefore, according to the official version, the necessary logistics for shipbuilders should provide the Crimean bridge.
In reality, the level of shipbuilding and ship repair in the Crimea is so meager that all the necessary large-sized mechanisms can be delivered in one echelon.
6. The Kerch Strait Bridge will reduce consumer prices in the Crimea. Facilitation of the delivery of goods from mainland Russia to the Crimea via the bridge will allegedly reduce the transport component in the prices of goods in the Crimea. As of 2017, the price level in the Crimea is significantly higher than the neighboring Krasnodar Territory due to transportation costs.
Actually, the passage on the bridge will be paid and it is unlikely that this will affect the price reduction.
7. Facilitating transit from the European Union to Central Asia. The Russian authorities believe that the next stage of “the growth of the welfare of the Crimea” will take place after the normalization of relations between Russia and Ukraine (!). After the closure of the transport blockade of the Crimea, the invaders assured that a new transit transport route will be opened for transportation from the European Union towards Central Asia, 400 km shorter than the existing one. With the launch of this route, the Crimea will begin to receive more revenue from transit transport services.
Actually. Russia, of course, does not intend to normalize relations with Ukraine, realizing that this is possible only as a result of the return of the Crimea. Therefore, he expects that this option is possible only with the occupation of Ukraine.
Even having briefly analyzed the advantages declared by the occupants from the construction of the bridge in Kerch, one can come to the conclusion that all these cargo flows will not pay off the cost of building the bridge even for a long period of time.
A significant role in this is played by the status of the occupied territory. The project could pay off and acquire strategic economic importance only when it becomes a global transport facility. In this case, the transport passage could, under certain conditions, become part of the Great Silk Road or the Black Sea Ring Road. But in the conditions of the occupation of Crimea both the first and second option remain impossible.
Russia’s Military objectives
The construction of the Kerch bridge is necessary for the invaders exclusively from the military point of view, and the inhabitants of the Crimea will have to accept this. At the same time the strategic military goals of Russians need to be considered in conjunction with other projects.
Firstly, in early 2015, Russia decided to build a railroad on the Zhuravka-Millerovo section bypassing Ukraine for trains that depart from the central regions of the Russian Federation to the south.
August 7, 2017 was announced the completion of construction. The throughput capacity of the site in 137 kilometers after commissioning was up to 240 trains per day in both directions.
As stated in the “Railways”, the road is electrified, double-track all the way; seven new railway stations were built. Eloquent detail: the railroad was built by the railway troops of Russia, which causes associations with the restoration of the railway in Abkhazia before the war with Georgia.
Secondly, in 2017 the construction of the Tavrida highway began. It is planned that the new four-lane Tavrida highway will connect Kerch, where a bridge across the Kerch Strait will be constructed, with Simferopol and Sevastopol.
The first stage of road construction (in a two-lane version) is planned to be completed before the end of 2018, the second (four lanes) – until the end of 2020.
The length of Tavrida will be about 300 kilometers, part of this road will pass along the existing road, other sites are planned to be built.
In addition, the federal target program of the invaders provides for the electrification and modernization of the Kerch-Theodosia-Dzhankoy railway.
In the aggregate of these projects, the construction of a strategic road transport route covering the north-eastern, eastern and southern regions of Ukraine is seen, where the Kerch bridge across the strait is only a connecting link. After the implementation of the project, Russia will have the opportunity not only to build up its military presence in the Crimea at the right time, to move troops and military equipment, ammunition and fuel and lubricants not with air or sea assets, which it does not have enough for a full-scale war, but cheaper by road or rail.
The military objectives of the bridge construction are confirmed by two more circumstances. First, the negative consequences that have arisen in the process of construction and those that will still arise are equally negative for Ukraine and for Russia. Nevertheless, construction is underway. Secondly, the construction has not yet been completed, and unprecedented measures have been taken to protect it and defend it, according to the A2AD, A2/AD system.
To remind: A2AD, A2/AD (Anti-access and area denial – restriction and prohibition of access and maneuvers). This is the concept of deterring the enemy (usually a complex of weapons) by creating an increased danger for deployment or relocation of its forces to the protected area. Russia has established A2 / AD zones with centers in the following settlements: Kaliningrad, Murmansk, Polarnyi, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Sevastopol, Novorossiysk, Novosibirsk, Vladivostok, Nakhodka, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Novaya Zemlya, Tiksi, Khmeimim airbase in Latakia (Syria).
For this purpose, a special marine brigade of Federal Nation Guard Troops Srvice is created. It is planned that it will also include a detachment of combat swimmers armed with several speedboats of project 03160 “Predator”, detachment of anti-sabotage boats of project 21980 in the number of 4 units.
In addition, around the adjoining territory of the bridge, special barriers are created to limit the access of outsiders. A capital system of barriers, checkpoints, burglar alarms, communication and alert systems for protection, fire protection systems and monitoring systems of the adjacent territory and water area near the bridge using video surveillance and other technical means is being built. A stationary hydroacoustic system of detection of underwater swimmers and their delivery means “Amulet-R” will be installed.
Reference: The Amulet-R boundary hydroacoustic station is designed to provide primary detection, classification and support of underwater swimmers and their delivery vehicles, surface targets along the long borders along the border of control zones.
To prevent sabotage by vessels attempts to “ram” supports, the occupiers will protect them with special hydraulic structures – pawls. They will be built of metal dowel with a stone backfill and a reinforced concrete head.
Creates its own air defense system. The bridge is included in the cover zone of the S-400 complex deployed in the Crimea, and in connection with the limitation of the radio horizon, the air defense system provides for the complexes of the Tor and Buk missiles to destroy low-flying targets. In the summer of 2017, when the A-50 aircraft was transferred to the Crimea to strengthen the S-400, which covers the city, as a component of the radar surveillance and guidance air complex, which for the S-400 performs the function of a “flying” radar station, primarily against low-flying over-horizon goals.
As we see, the military aims of the bridge builders that connects the occupied Crimea with the mainland part of Russia are obvious. The IR group will continue the series of publications devoted to the plans of the invaders on the usage of this bridge crossing.
I5mage credits: Asia Times.