Russia has made a desperate move of sinking its ship in a bid to protect the illegal Kerch bridge that connects Crimea and Russia. Ukraine’s small but mighty naval drones have caused havoc to its assets in the Black Sea. Russia has resorted to sinking old ships to create a protective barrier along the Kerch Bridge
But the defensive line of wrecked ferries and ship barges is far from a catch-all solution, an expert told Insider; it could just be a Band-Aid on a bullet hole.
Over the weekend, satellite images showed what appeared to be a barrier in the water along a section of the Kerch Bridge that was previously damaged by a naval drone attack in July.
The barrier is estimated to be less than a mile in length — a small fraction of the massive 12-mile-long bridge. One thread on X, showed progress images of the barrier in the works.
The visuals suggest Russia has been hard at work attempting to protect the Kerch Bridge — a vital asset for their forces and civilians, and a key target for Ukraine — from Ukraine’s unmanned surface vessel (USV) attacks.
“They appear to be an attempt to protect the bridge from maritime threats, but it will probably not work against smaller drone boats like those Ukraine has been using against Russian Navy ships anchored around Crimea,” Bryan Clark, a former US Navy officer and defense expert at the Hudson Institute, told Insider.
Ukraine’s intelligence picked up on Russia’s plan to sink six of its own, likely scrapped, ferries to create a barrier in late August, adding that it was unclear how they were measuring, placing, and sinking the boats.
The ships Russia appears to be sinking were destined for the scrapyard but could have been valuable for recycling parts. Those assets are being sunk to try and stop rather cheap, remote-operated USVs.
But the six partially submerged ships only cover a small section — a portion of the bridge that was previously attacked
“The spacing between these submerged hulks is wide enough for small vessels to get through and Ukrainian uncrewed vessels have a shallow draft and enough automation and sensor capability to avoid obstacles,” Clark told Insider, adding that while Russia may be betting that the small vessels won’t be able to “carry large enough explosive charges to damage the bridge,” these drones “can be very precise and place their warheads at the exact spot to maximize impact on a structure like a bridge.”
In July, an explosion apparently caused by a surface drone rocked a section of the Kerch Bridge, wrecking the roadbed and killing two adults. There was an immediate impact on civilian and military transportation to Crimea, although much of Russia’s military supply lines moved to northern land bridges after a previous attack on the Kerch Bridge in October 2022
The attack shook the Kremlin, who called it “a terror attack.” Russian officials and President Vladimir Putin see the Kerch Bridge, finished in 2018, as a crowning achievement, a symbol of Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, and a more permanent transportation, economic, and tourist connector between mainland Russia and the peninsula.
On the other hand, Ukraine views the bridge with contempt. With Crimea being among the most important territory for Kyiv to reclaim in the war, the Kerch Bridge is an important bond to sever.
There have been other attacks on Russian ships and targets, too, with Ukraine effectively using its naval drones effectively.
Other attacks, like one in August on the merchant tanker Sig, suggest Russia has been unprepared to defend against Ukrainian drones. The sleek, black USVs — often the size of a small boat or jet ski, like the one likely used in the July attack on the bridge — are tricky to spot in the water, and even just one’s explosive payload can have serious consequences.
This is the second year since this war erupted with over 200,000 Russian terrorists neutralised on Ukrainian soil. Russia has largely failed in its conflict which was supposed to last for 3 days. The US and European countries have supplied weapons to Kyiv to kick out the terrorists with the latest weapon being the cluster bomb shells which the Ukranian forces are effectively using against the enemy.