From Jamie Peipon: More news out of Crimea today. Apparently, there was another instance of a Russian soldier “smoking in an unauthorized location” at a base in Dzhankoy. Russian state media has to call it an accident of some sort because admitting that it was a Ukrainian attack would mean admitting that Russia is not particularly capable of defending itself against the weapons being used. However, the Russians seem to know what is actually happening. There are lots of videos of Russians with suitcases in huge lines at every transportation hub trying to make their way out of Crimea. The only reason for that is that they are expecting more attacks.
Also out of Crimea this evening, there are reports circulating that the infamous “Crimean Bridge” (pictured above) has been closed until 6 am tomorrow morning. There are two main theories as to why. The first theory is that they are expecting it to be attacked by Ukraine. That would be huge news for Ukrainians as they have been looking forward to getting rid of that bridge since the day it was built. It is practically the only way that Russian military force can be transported in and out of Crimea which then feeds into the Kherson front. The bridge has great strategic value, but it also has great symbolic value. If/when that bridge goes down, there will be a great deal of celebration.
The second theory is that officials have closed the bridge overnight so that they can move their families and any personal belongings off the peninsula without being stuck in traffic with the regular folks. Honestly, I think this is the more likely of the two options. It is very “on brand” for Russian “leaders” to lead by giving themselves special privileges and being the first to evacuate.
Putin gave a speech today at a military expo. In it, he again spoke about the goals for his “special military operation.” At this point, he’s saying that the goal is for the “liberation of the land of Donbas.” This is noteworthy because I am old enough to remember when Putin talked about other goals that were far broader than Donbas even a few weeks ago.
Next week, August 24th will be a milestone day. Tension seems to be rising a bit as it approaches. It will be exactly 6 months since the invasion… 6 long months. In addition, it is also Independence Day in Ukraine. Ukraine will be celebrating 31 years of independence and there are questions about whether Putin has been preparing “gifts” to make the day memorable. While anxiety does seem to be on the rise, we have already seen several of these types of days come and go. Most notably, Victory Day on May 9th passed without anything particularly noteworthy happening. With the way things have been going of late, it almost seems more likely that Ukraine might be planning a clear demonstration of force rather than seeing something like that from Russia.
“Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether
who rejoice at my calamity!
Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor
who magnify themselves against me!”