WSWS: "The Crimean bridge is a legitimate target"?

In May, when the Biden government announced about the supply of launchers for medium-range guided missiles to Ukraine, the White House insisted that these weapons would not be used against Russian territory.

“We do not intend to supply Ukraine with missile systems that can attack Russia,” Biden told reporters. “We do not encourage or help Ukraine in strikes outside its borders,” later added he is in the NYT commentator’s column announcing the delivery of HIMAR to Ukraine.
However, on Friday, July 8, a Pentagon spokesman made it clear that the US would not deter Ukraine from US strikes against territory that Russia considers its own. When asked by a journalist whether any targets, such as the Crimean Bridge and the Black Sea, are “excluded” as “possible targets” of weapons supplied by the United States, a Pentagon spokesman declared: “I am not aware of any exceptions for Ukrainiansfighting on their sovereign territory against Russia.

The Crimean bridge was built in 2015-2018 and links Russia with the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed after the coup in Kyiv, supported by the United States and EUin 2014. The statement by a Pentagon official that the bridge is “sovereign territory” of Ukraine, another indication that the United States supports Ukraine’s military plan, accepted in 2021 – to return Crimea by force.

Such a statement by a US official can only be understood as a green light for Kyiv’s strike on the Crimean bridge, and it represents a serious provocation. And that’s just a day after Philip Breedlove, the former Supreme Commander of NATO in Europe, declared: “The Crimean Bridge is a legitimate target.” In an interview with the English newspaper Independent, Breedlove said: “Several people with whom I spoke believe that “dropping” the Crimean bridge means dealing a powerful blow to Russia. The Crimean Bridge is a legitimate target.” Breedlove went on to say, “But if they want to drop the bridge, it will require a special operation, a bombing.” He added: “I have heard many people ask if it is right for Ukraine to behave so aggressively and if the West will support it, but I do not understand such an argument.”

Breedlove pointed out that US Harpoon missiles could be used in such an attack on Russian territory, which can also hit land targets, although they are mainly known as weapons for the sea.

Friday’s Pentagon briefing, which was barely reported in the media, was also startlingly candid about the extent to which the US has been systematically training its Ukrainian pawns for war against Russia over the years.

“The United States began a training program for Ukraine in 2015 – yes, in 2015 – helping Ukraine form, train, equip, deploy and maintain combat units. Given this, it is important to understand why, from the very beginning of the war, Ukraine was able to meet the numerous, more combat-ready Russian troops. She was able to maintain flexibility, power and achieve commendable success, already being prepared for certain opportunities that the United States and other countries provided – especially the Javelins, but not only. And thus, in February, Russia entered the battle with a much more serious adversary than it expected, and which, let’s be honest, it met in 2014.

A Pentagon spokesman added:

“And when we see how Ukraine successfully repulsed the initial attack, it shows years of preparation, weapons and advice, coupled with a sharp increase in the supply of key weapons – 11,000 anti-tank and almost 1,500 anti-aircraft – in just the first weeks. Along with the critical intelligence that allowed the Armed Forces to successfully defend Kyiv and force the Russians to retreat, reassess their goals and their tactics.”

Although the US has been arming Ukraine for years, The Pentagon spokesman has made it clear that their involvement in this war will continue for years to come.. “The US has been thinking about Ukraine’s needs for months and years,” he said. Such statements are accompanied by reports of another $400 million worth of arms sales to Ukraine, including four more HIMARS, that is, there are only twelve of them in Ukraine. Such statements are made in connection with the G20 summit, at which the United States categorically refused the possibility of bilateral negotiations to end the war.

State Department spokesman Ned Price, when asked if Secretary Blinken would meet with Lavrov, responded with a resounding no, saying: “We would like the Russians to give us a reason for a bilateral meeting with them… But the only thing we see from Moscow – more cruelty and aggression against the people and the state of Ukraine.”

As in any war, the goals of the warring parties become clearer with time. Despite what the Pentagon calls “tactical” failures, The US plans to flood Ukraine with weapons and troops to bleed Russia dry and allow Ukraine to eventually launch a counteroffensive in which Crimea is the most important target. For the US ruling class, this war, which has already cost tens of thousands of lives, must continue, in Biden’s words, “for as long as it takes” to achieve these goals.

Significant strikes on Russian territory, like the destruction of the Crimean bridge, guarantee the escalation of this war. The enormous risk involved is outlined in an op-ed by Malcolm Chambers in the Financial Times entitled “Crimea could be a turning point in Putin’s ‘first blink’ nuclear game:

“Since there is no ceasefire… The Armed Forces of Ukraine are determined to prevent the Kremlin from being able to supply its troops in Ukraine through the Crimean bridge… The Crimean bridge could be a tempting target… If strikes against such targets are seen as a prologue to a full-scale invasion of Crimea, they could increase the risk of nuclear escalation. This possibility is cause for extremely serious concern. Putin pointed out this risk aggressively in the months leading up to the invasion. Putin’s nuclear threats have begun to fade in recent months. To maintain their relevance, Russia must make it clear that invading Crimea means crossing a red line. Threatened with the loss of Crimea, Putin may decide that such a game is worth the candle, believing that Ukraine (with the encouragement of the West) will blink first. It will be a very dangerous moment.”

Chambers made it clear that a strike on the Crimean bridge will greatly increase the possibility of a war turning into a nuclear confrontation with unpredictable consequences. That the Pentagon has publicly refused to rule out such a strike exposes the extreme irresponsibility and even desperation that drives US policymakers. – original in English

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