Ukraine.  Live coverage Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Russian occupiers have begun construction of a railway line that will connect Kremlin-controlled areas of Donbass in eastern Ukraine, including the cities of Donetsk and Mariupol, with Rostov-on-Donin. Petro Andryushenko, an advisor to the pro-Kiev mayor of Mariupol, said this was an attempt to find an alternative route to the Crimean Bridge.

These enemy plans are no longer just talk, as the invaders are building a railway bridge near the village of Hranitny in the occupied part of the Donetsk region. This will enable them to connect the existing section of the Mariupol-Volnovakha railway line to lines leading to Donetsk, as well as to the Russian cities of Rostov-on-Don and Taganrog, Andryushenko said.

“In practice, this means not only resolving the issue of (Russian) military and civilian logistics, but also significantly reducing dependence on (rail transport) across the Crimean Bridge,” the local government official noted.

The bridge leading to the Crimean Peninsula was built in 2018, and connects the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia has occupied since 2014, with the Russian Krasnodar region. The crossing was personally opened by Vladimir Putin in 2018. Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Kremlin has used this connection to transport soldiers and military equipment to Crimea and then to Ukraine.

Since last fall, the crossing has become a target for Ukrainian sabotage operations. In early August, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC), Oleksiy Danilov, confirmed that representatives of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) participated in the attacks on the Crimean Bridge in October 2022 and July 2023.

In recent weeks, there have been regular reports of restrictions on vehicle movement on the bridge imposed by the Russian side for safety reasons or long waiting periods to enter the crossing.

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