The Kremlin is intent on exhibiting the attack on the Crimea bridge wasn’t that severe and that the essential lifeline from the Russian mainland to the illegally-annexed Crimean Peninsula might be again to regular quickly.
The bodily injury might be restored — Russia instantly dispatched a big emergency staff to the positioning — however the injury to Russia’s status and, extra importantly, to the picture of Vladimir Putin, will not be that straightforward to restore.
That is his bridge, his challenge, constructed with the equal of virtually $4 billion from the Russian treasury. It is a symbolic “wedding ceremony band” uniting Mom Russia and Ukraine, or at the very least a area that also legally belongs to Ukraine, essential not solely to Putin’s battle effort however to his obsession with bringing Ukraine again underneath Russia’s management.
Putin’s February 21st address to the Russian folks, delivered simply earlier than he ordered the invasion of Ukraine, laid naked his warped view of historical past. Ukraine, he insists, just isn’t actually an impartial nation: “Ukraine is not only a neighboring nation for us,” he claimed. “It’s an inalienable a part of our personal historical past, tradition and non secular area.”
That speech, some of the revealing of his presidency, makes clear that this fratricidal battle towards Ukraine could be very private to him. For a few years he has been fixated on Peter the Nice, the Russian czar who based St. Petersburg, town through which Putin was born and raised. I as soon as visited town administration workplace through which Putin labored within the early Nineties after he returned from his job as a KGB operative in East Germany. On the wall above his desk was a portrait of Peter the Nice.
In June of this yr, because the grinding battle in Ukraine entered its fourth month, Putin once more compared himself to Peter the Great, insisting that Peter, who conquered land from Sweden, was “returning” to Russia what really belonged to it.
Putin now, apparently, believes that returning Ukraine to Russia is his historic future. He seemingly sees the galling assault on the Crimea bridge not solely as an assault on the Russian homeland, however as a private affront. And he’s more likely to reply viciously.
Already, a day after the assault, Russian forces are bombing civilian apartment buildings in Ukraine. Hardline supporters of Putin are urging extra strikes on Ukraine’s infrastructure. Western leaders warn that an more and more pissed off Putin would possibly resort to utilizing tactical nuclear weapons. Navy specialists say he might retaliate asymmetrically, hanging sudden targets.
One factor is evident: because the combating strikes nearer to Russia, Vladimir Putin sees his “historic mission” in jeopardy. And meaning feelings might outweigh motive. For Ukraine, and for the world, it is a harmful second.