Sunday, June 16, 2024

Crimea could become ‘negotiation point’ in major embarrassment for Putin

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Vladimir Putin may be close to facing a major embarrassment as Ukraine continues to keep the pressure on the Crimean peninsula.

Former Royal Navy officer Tom Sharpe noted Crimea has been dealt quite a few major blows since the unlawful invasion of Ukraine started in February 2022.

And as US President Joe Biden has green-lighted the use of the American-supplied long-range ATACMS against Russian territories, the peninsula key for the Russians to carry on the war is under further strain.

Crimea was illegally annexed by the Kremlin in 2014 and is of major importance for the delivery of supplies and men from Russia to the frontline.

Mr Sharpe said there are two main arteries “keeping Crimea alive” – a railway and Kerch Bridge.

The 12-mile-long bridge was launched in 2018 and provides the only link between Russia and Crimea. Ukrainian attacks have damaged it twice since 2022, first in October 2022 and then in July 2023.

Ukraine hasn’t targeted only the Crimean bridge, and as recently as on June 10, Ukraine claimed to have damaged three Russian surface-to-air defence systems in Crimea – possibly curbing Russia‘s capacity to launch ballistic missile attacks on southern Ukraine from the peninsula.

On May 30, Ukraine said to have damaged two ferries and halted their operations between the peninsula and the Russian mainland.

The former Navy officer believes Ukraine can press on with its attacks and not just cut out Crimea as a source of men and ammunition for the battlefield but also turn it into a major point during future negotiations with the Kremlin.

Mr Sharpe wrote in the Telegraph: “Choke the arteries, increase the squeeze and wait for the missiles, ammo and basic supplies to dry up. Then watch the bills mount as Putin is forced to burn resources to hold on to the peninsula, achieving nothing but avoiding a propaganda loss.

“Add in the embarrassment factor and Crimea becomes not just a greatly reduced operational base but a negotiating point with strategic utility across the whole conflict.”

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