Home » The bomb on the Crimean bridge has scratched Putin’s invincibility – Pierre Haski

The bomb on the Crimean bridge has scratched Putin’s invincibility – Pierre Haski

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The bomb on the Crimean bridge has scratched Putin’s invincibility – Pierre Haski

10 October 2022 10:15

On the evening of October 9, Vladimir Putin came out of his silence after the attack that the previous day had damaged the bridge connecting the occupied Crimea to Russia. After the attack, clearly an act of personal defiance, the Russian president accused the Ukrainian secret services of being responsible for what he called an “act of terrorism”. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the spectacular operation, although some leaders have publicly cheered on it.

On October 10, Putin will meet the Russian Security Council to prepare his response, although in the Russian vertical system the last word is always up to him. Evidently there are important decisions to be made, because things are bad. The attack, which severely damaged the bridge, represents a humiliation for Putin, who had ordered its construction after the annexation of Crimea and had personally inaugurated it in 2018.

The Russians, to minimize the extent of the event, underline that traffic has already been restored on one of the two carriageways of the infrastructure. But the blow was very hard, because the attack highlights for the umpteenth time the weaknesses of the Moscow army.

Blind attacks
On 9 October, Russian missiles hit some residential buildings in Zaporizhja in the middle of the night [e la mattina del 10 sono state colpite la capitale Kiev e l’Ucraina centroccidentale, ndr], Ukrainian city located near the nuclear power plant of the same name and is currently controlled by the Russians. Civilian casualties were at least 12, killed in their sleep.

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Moscow’s blind attacks are probably not a direct response to the bridge attack, but they constitute one of the few tools available to the Russian military to increase its pressure on Ukraine.

After the advances of the Ukrainians and the partial mobilization, criticism begins to circulate in Moscow

For just over a month, Putin’s army has in fact been in retreat. Two Ukrainian counter-offensives, one to the north-east and the other to the south, have allowed Kiev to recapture territories that ended up in Russian hands after the start of the conflict. Ukrainian forces continue to exploit their advantage, especially in Cherson, in the south, the capital of one of the regions annexed by the September referendum.
Russia is unable to stabilize the front on a line that could be maintained pending the partial mobilization imposed in the country to produce positive effects. For this to happen, however, it will take time.

After the advances of the Ukrainians and the partial mobilization, criticism began to circulate in Moscow, initially directed against the military leaders, primarily responsible for the defeat. Putin replaced the head of the special operation in Ukraine and appointed a veteran of the war in Syria in his place. The move does not bode well.

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The accusations, meanwhile, take on the aspect of a struggle between clans within the elite, which cannot attack the supreme leader without whom it would not exist. At the moment, the broadcasts are focused on Defense Minister Sergej Šojgu who, since the beginning of the invasion, has maintained a discreet attitude. According to the US intelligence services, cited last week by the Washington Post, a member of the inner circle of the Russian regime would have directly criticized Putin for his management of the war, a novelty which, however, is not enough to speak of cracks in the apparatus.

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What is certain is that the attack on the bridge further scratched the patina of invincibility built by Putin before February 24th. A fallible leader in such a system automatically becomes vulnerable.

(Translation by Andrea Sparacino)

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