Putin plans new 450-mile railway line to Crimea as part of crucial backup plan | World | News


Vladimir Putin is planning the launch of a 450-mile railway going from Russia to occupied Crimea in a bid to give his army a backup supply line in case Kerch Bridge is destroyed.

The 12-mile bridge is wanted by the Russian president in the wake of the illegal annexation of Ukraine‘s Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

Inaugurated in 2018, this bridge represents the main link between mainland Russia and Crimea, and has become a major supply artery for the Russian military fighting on the southern frontline.

But, considered a fair target by the Ukrainian military, it is often threatened by attacks – and has been hit and damaged twice since the beginning of the unlawful Russian invasion of the eastern European nation.

Speaking to a rally the day after the results of the Russian presidential election were announced, Putin said he would make sure the railway running from Rostov-on-Don in western Russia to Sevastopol in Crimea would soon be operational.

Speaking about this railway crossing through territories in occupied Ukraine – including Mariupol and Berdyansk – he said: “I have just been informed that the railway from [Russian] Rostov-on-Don to Donetsk, Mariupol and Berdyansk has been rebuilt.

“We will continue this work, and soon trains will ride all the way to Crimea, and this will be another alternative route, in addition to the Crimean bridge.”

Yevgeny Balitsky, the Russia-appointed head of occupied parts of theZaporizhzhia region, echoed Putin as he said this railway line would “solve the problems of the military”, as well as making it easier to bring Ukrainian grain, coal and other precious commodities to Russia.

While the Russian president seemed to suggest the railway was completed, Balitsky said the line was under construction but set to be finished by the end of the summer.

While the dwindling military aid for Ukraine is making the fight on the frontline more difficult for Kyiv’s troops, suspected Ukrainian drones have increasingly been hitting strategic targets inside the Russian territories, including major oil and gas infrastructure.

Putin’s speech on the railway came after he secured six more years in power following a three-day election – the freedom and fairness of which have been argued by international observers.

The official tally from the vote, which was held also in occupied Ukraine, was an 87.28 percent share of the ballot for Putin – described by the Kremlin as “the most eloquent confirmation of the level of support from the population” for the President.

Speaking about the vote, UK Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron said it “starkly underlined” the “depth of repression under President Putin’s regime, which seeks to silence any opposition to his illegal war”.

He added: “Putin removes his political opponents, controls the media, and then crowns himself the winner. This is not democracy.”

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