Putin faces grim choices after blast hits prized Crimea bridge

The blast brings forward by a number of weeks the strategic choices he must make about Russia's occupation of southern Ukraine.

Kryvyi Rih: An explosion that severely damaged parts of the road and rail bridge between annexed Crimea and the Russian mainland early Saturday seems designed to play into President Vladimir Putin’s current talent for making bad decisions, local media reported.

It brings forward by a number of weeks the strategic choices he must make about Russia’s occupation of southern Ukraine. This entire presence was already poorly supplied, managed and in retreat. And it shows that the key railway route into Crimea and onwards to the frontlines in Kherson is highly vulnerable to future attacks, CNN reported.

While Kiev has not claimed responsibility for the Kerch Strait bridge blast, it has previously taken credit for a series of strikes on targets in Russian-occupied Crimea over the summer.

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It exposes the staggering 20th century weakness of Russia’s armed forces and occupation: They need railways to get around.

Putin now faces a series of expedited and painful decisions, all of which will severely belie his continued poker-face of pride and bombast towards the gathering signs of slow defeat. To the west of the Dnipro river, his army in Kherson is besieged by fast-moving Ukrainian forces. They are already in retreat, partially owing to the same poor resupply that will be accentuated by the Kerch blast.

Putin must choose between feeding his larger ambitions with a dwindling chance of success, or consolidating forces around an objective he has a greater chance of achieving, CNN reported.

One carries the risk of catastrophic collapse, for his entire brutal adventure into Ukraine, and quite possibly his rule. The second leaves him with an immediate loss of face, but a stronger chance of sustaining the occupation of smaller parts of Ukraine.

His internal position has not looked weaker since he came to power in 2000. An admission of failure may be unpalatable at this stage, and a greater gamble the easier move. Yet he again tips the war towards a binary moment where his occupation – and even regime – faces a complete collapse or a tiny, madcap prospect of victory, CNN reported.

Nuclear threats and rhetoric have been the horrifying backdrop of this war. Yet still Moscow has not resorted to any doomsday moves while NATO armed Ukraine to an extent that was unthinkable before the war.

Kiev’s smart and patient strikes on Russia’s ageing transport dependencies has left Putin with a series of existential decisions to make in the hours ahead. He’s made a lot of bad ones in the past seven months. Does the Kerch explosion add to that list, or provide a cold bath of reality, and a readjustment of the Kremlin’s view of the possible, CNN reported.

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