Comment: Luke Harding is a British intelligence agent masquerading as a journalist, so keep that in mind as he explains to you why it's 'inevitable' that Europe's longest bridge 'must be destroyed' to 'avenge Ukraine'...

Kerch Bridge
© Getty Images/Anadolu AgencyKerch Bridge terror attack, October 08, 2022
They have become a familiar sight in the skies above parts of Russia: long-range enemy drones, buzzing their way to another target. In the biggest Ukrainian onslaught inside Russian territory since Vladimir Putin's full-scale invasion two years ago, Ukraine has in recent weeks carried out a series of attacks on Russian oil refineries and ports. On Tuesday, it hit a refinery and drone factory in the industrial region of Tatarstan - more than 800 miles from the border.

The Ukrainian spy agency behind these drone strikes has its eyes on another target: the 12-mile long Kerch bridge connecting occupied Crimea with Russia. Senior officials from Ukraine's HUR military intelligence service indicate it is plotting a third attempt on the bridge, after two previous attempts to blow it up, claiming its destruction is "inevitable".

For Putin, the bridge is a tangible reminder of what he sees as one of his greatest political achievements: the peninsula's 2014 "return" to Russia using undercover Russian troops and a sham referendum.

Comment: One must bear in mind that The Guardian mostly operates as a propaganda asset of the British government and so its 'journalism' can be rather warped.

For Kyiv, the bridge is equally a hated symbol of the Kremlin's illegal annexation. Its destruction would strengthen Ukraine's campaign to liberate Crimea and raise morale on and off the battlefield, where Kyiv's forces are gradually being pushed back.

How any Ukrainian attack would unfold is unclear and there are serious doubts about whether the HUR is capable of pulling off a special operation against such a well-defended and obvious target.

Comment: The Kiev-junta is only capable of doing anything thanks to the generosity of the West, and that includes everything from paying pensions, to direct military assistance on the battlefield.

It's probably no coincidence that German military officials were recently exposed as planning their own terrorist attack on the bridge - is this perhaps an attempt for Ukraine to assume responsibility rather than Germany? Transcript released of purported German discussion on attacking Crimean Bridge

Russia has taken extensive measures to protect the bridge, strengthening anti-aircraft defences and deploying a "target barge" as a decoy for incoming guided missiles.

The HUR thinks it can disable the bridge soon. "We will do it in the first half of 2024," one official told the Guardian, adding that Kyrylo Budanov, the head of the main directorate of intelligence, already had "most of the means to carry out this goal". He was following a plan approved by Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to "minimise" Russia's naval presence in the Black Sea.

Over the past five months Ukraine has sunk seven landing boats and large ships belonging to Moscow's Black Sea fleet.

Comment: Again, the evidence suggests that most of these attacks were facilitated - if not directly carried out - by the West.

The latest, the Sergei Kotov, capsized in March after a night-time raid involving 10 Ukrainian Magura V5 amphibious drones packed with explosives as it was on patrol south of the Kerch bridge. HUR officials indicated this was a "shaping operation" prior to another attack on the crossing.

The bridge has been hit and repaired twice before. A 3am raid by Ukrainian sea drones last July caused extensive damage to the road section, which runs parallel to a separate railway section used by Russia's military to move tanks and supplies. In October 2022 an explosion, Russia said from a bomb smuggled on to a truck, caused several spans of roadway to fall into the water.

If the bridge were permanently compromised, Moscow would be forced to transport military supplies by road through occupied southern Ukraine. The route would go via Kherson and Zaporizhzhia provinces, which Russia partly captured in spring 2022. Ukrainian officials believe this would significantly impair the Kremlin's ability to carry out offensives at a time when its ground forces are advancing.

The officials indicated that western weapons would allow Ukraine to destroy the bridge more speedily and Zelenskiy has repeatedly asked Berlin for its long-range Taurus missile system. Germany's chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has so far refused, arguing that this would be tantamount to his country taking a direct role in the war with Russia, and a dangerous escalation.

Comment: Even Western leaders have admitted that they're directly involved in the war on Russia: Germany's Scholz implies British troops operating long-range missiles INSIDE Ukraine, is slammed by counterparts for intel-leak

Pro-Kremlin Russian channels last month released an intercepted phone call in which high-ranking German military officials discussed the capabilities of Taurus. The experts estimated that 10 to 20 missiles would probably be enough to destroy the bridge.

Budanov's deputy, Maj Gen Vadym Skybytskyi, said he believed European politicians were wrong to fear escalation. "What does escalation mean for us? We have had two years of war. It's an everyday procedure," he said. "Russia bombs our territory. It hits power stations and civilian infrastructure."

Comment: Russia mostly avoided those sites until recently: Swathes of Ukraine go dark after Russia pummels energy infrastructure

He said victory was currently impossible on the battlefield, given Russia's military superiority and a shortage on the Ukrainian side of artillery shells and fighter jets, and suggested Kyiv had "no choice" but to take the fight to targets deep behind enemy lines, including military infrastructure, command and control centres and industrial production sites that made "weapons and munitions".

Comment: Sabotage has actually been ongoing since 2022, and likely even before - and not just against Russia: 'Sabotage terrorist attack' blasts two Iranian gas pipeline; massive explosion at Russia's Voktinsk munitions factory

Kyiv used a Nato-standard procedure known as centre of gravity or Cog, he added - a model where outsized results can be achieved by selecting and then eliminating a few carefully picked high-value targets.

In recent months the HUR has sought to wipe out Russia's refining capacity. Its long-range drones have hit Russian oil terminals in Putin's home city of St Petersburg, more than 1,000km (621 miles) from Ukraine's border. There have been attacks in the Oryol region, a blast on a train in the Urals city of Nizhny Tagil, and a strike in the Baltic port of Ust-Luga. The Tuapse oil refinery on the Black Sea also caught fire. The Financial Times reported that Washington had urged Kyiv to halt drone strikes on Russian energy infrastructure for fear of driving up global oil prices.

During Russia's elections last month there were explosions at fuel facilities in the Oryol and Nizhny Novgorod regions, and in the border region of Belgorod, where pro-Ukrainian Russian fighters using armoured vehicles carried out several separate border incursions. One drone was shot down near Moscow, its mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, said.

Ukraine planned to strike more Russian targets, Skybytskyi claimed, with undercover agents playing a part. Some were "Russians with Ukrainian roots"; others were non-ideological Russians recruited in exchange for payments. The "pool" was so large the HUR could pick and choose candidates for sabotage operations, he said.

But Russia's own spy agencies were now back after a period on the back foot, the general added. They had adapted their techniques, he suggested. After Putin's full-scale invasion, western governments, including the UK, expelled large numbers of career Russian intelligence officers stationed abroad under diplomatic cover.

There was apparent proof of the Kremlin's renewed confidence in February when a Russian pilot who defected to Ukraine was found murdered in a Spanish seaside resort. Brigadier-general Dmytro Timkov, the HUR's top security official, said Maksim Kuzminov had been warned not to leave Ukraine for the EU. He ignored the advice, Timkov said.

Timkov compared Ukraine to a patient on life support, in desperate need of further assistance. "We are attached to a drip. We have enough drugs to stay alive. But if the west wants us to win we need the full treatment," he said. "Otherwise we fall down."