Putin to take ‘revenge’ for bridge blast as expert warns war ‘might go nuclear’

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    The Crimea Bridge across the Kerch Straits was hailed as a “miracle” by Vladimir Putin when he drove the first lorry across it in 2018, and yesterday’s bomb blast has been seen as a humiliation for the Russian leader, both at home and abroad.

    It’s raised fears that Putin could lash out unpredictably.

    Military analysts now say the Russian assault on Ukraine is likely to be “stepped up,” and General Lord Richard Dannatt, the former head of the British Army, warns that in his rage Putin might order more shelling of Ukrainian civilian targets and there was an increased risk that the war “might go nuclear”.

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    The attacks on civilian targets have already increased. Overnight Russian missile attacks in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia caused at least 12 civilian deaths, with dozens more severely injured.

    Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, warned in July that if Ukraine ever attacked the Crimea Bridge, Russia would unleash a “Judgement Day” scenario. He didn’t clarify what he meant by that, but in the wake of Putin’s regular nuclear threats there’s more focus on the use of a weapon of mass destruction by Russian forces.

    “This was a declaration of war without rules,” said Alexander Bashkin, a Russian senator, warning the Kremlin response will be: “adequate, conscious and, possibly, asymmetric”.

    Sergei Aksyonov, the Kremlin-installed governor of Crimea, said. “Of course, emotions have been triggered and there is a healthy desire to seek revenge.”

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    Lord Dannatt said in May that he didn’t believe Putin would actually order a nuclear attack on a city .

    "I think he's more likely to use a nuclear weapon in a demonstrative way – fire it into the sea, fire it into the desert – just to show that he's serious. But even that is unthinkable and just shouldn't be happening in the 21st century."

    He told Sky News that while the West could respond with a nuclear strike if Putin were to launch one of his nukes, NATO also had “conventional weapons of huge power” and it could just as easily respond to Putin by sinking his entire Black Sea fleet.

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    Russian officials are downplaying the destruction of the bridge, claiming that the rail link will reopen soon. However the road section could take at least a month to be rebuilt fully, assuming there are no further attacks.

    Russian reassurances haven't prevented panic-buying among the civilian population of the province, who seem to have little faith that Russia can keep the shops stocked.

    The bridge was a key supply line not only for Crimea but for the Russian forces in Kherson, providing a route for some 13 million tons of cargo a year.

    The truck bomb, whether by luck or design, also ignited fuel wagons on a passing train, amplifying the damage caused.

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    It’s notable that while Ukrainian propaganda outlets have mocked the “sick burn” dealt to Putin’s pride, Kyiv has not officially claimed responsibility for the blast.

    The closest Ukraine has come to admitting responsibility was a tweet from Mykhaylo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy,who wrote: ”Crimea, the bridge, the beginning.

    “Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled."

    However, he later added: "It is worth noting that the truck that detonated, according to all indications, entered the bridge from the Russian side. So the answers should be sought in Russia”.

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    Anti-terrorism officials in Moscow say the explosion was caused by a “bomb”, hidden in a lorry driven over from the Russian side. There have been suggestions that the blast was the result of infighting among the Russian security forces.

    The owner of the truck has been identified as a man from Russia’s southern Krasnodar region, and officials from the FSB – the successor agency to the KGB – are searching his house and investigating his contacts.

    Vladimir Konstantinov, the Speaker of the puppet parliament in Crimea, blamed the explosions on “Ukrainian vandals, who have finally managed to stretch their bloody hands to the Crimean bridge”.

    Kirill Stremousov, a Russian-appointed official in the Kherson region, said: “Everyone is waiting for a retaliatory strike, and it is likely to come”.

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