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Vladimir Putin crosses a bridge too far in writing off West

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

This week, Vladimir Putin formally opened the recently-constructed Kerch Strait Bridge that the Russian president commissioned to attach the newly-annexed Crimean Peninsula to the Russian mainland. To commemorate the event, Mr. Putin led a convoy of recent vans throughout the $three billion, 12-mile bridge, the longest span in Europe.

Simply in case you have been questioning, the Russian state information company TASS reported that Mr. Putin did have a truck driving license. He managed to maintain his shirt on as he proclaimed “Let’s hit the road!” and jumped into the cab of the lead truck to begin the procession.

This episode places an exclamation level on one in all Mr. Putin’s most consequential choices — the annexation of the strategic peninsula jetting out into the Black Sea. The choice to grab “Krim,” as it’s pronounced in Russian and Ukrainian, marked the start of the tip of any faint hopes the Putin authorities wished a relationship with the West.

The bridge not solely linked the previous a part of Ukraine to Russia, but in addition shut off Ukrainian ports within the Sea of Azov from massive ships. Delivery specialists say 30 % of the maritime site visitors that used to go to Mariupol and Berdyansk will now be restricted from coming into. I’ve been to Mariupol and spent important time on this traditionally essential mercantile port, traditionally a thriving delivery hyperlink to the outdated world of Central Asia. Now it’s blackened by the soot from the close by metal plant, and the water polluted. The discount in delivery site visitors will solely worsen the outlook for this economically repressed area.

Army strategists fear that Mr. Putin would try to accumulate a “land bridge” to shorten Russian provide routes to the newly-seized territory, relegated to ferry or air hyperlinks solely. With the bridge, that time in now moot.

The funding of $three.2 billion for the bridge is not any small quantity for the anemic Russian economic system, nonetheless struggling underneath Western sanctions, though the strong rebound in oil costs on worldwide markets will really assist. Having simply been elected to a different six-year time period, President Putin has made many guarantees to the Russian public, primarily centered on social spending and home priorities. The truth that the bridge was constructed anyway means the spending was deliberate and meant to make a really clear level.

That time: To verify to the world that Russia has no need to maneuver again into the nice graces of Brussels and Washington. The Kremlin is finished ready for some kind of detente with the Trump administration. The picture of Mr. Putin driving throughout the bridge says to the world Russia is now firmly within the camp with China, Iran, North Korea and Syria of their refusal to suit into the “Western” political mannequin, and their need to vogue a brand new axis to problem the West militarily and economically.

President Trump, together with the entire different points on his plate as he cleans up the mess of the Obama administration, can add the Kerch Strait Bridge problem to his checklist. It is not uncommon information that Mr. Putin has affect with North Korea, and Moscow’s new ally, China. In at present’s world, all of the regional conflicts are associated.

Washington Examiner columnist Tom Rogan is overtly encouraging Ukraine — backed by the American army — to assault the bridge from the air, arguing that the casualties could be “minimized” if accomplished on the proper time. Nothing like a consultant of the American media, who has by no means served, calling for a struggle with the world’s largest nuclear energy. I’m certain he’s keen to enlist immediately to assist make this occur.

By the way in which, his feedback didn’t go down effectively in Russia.

L. Todd Wooden is a former particular operations helicopter pilot and Wall Avenue debt dealer, and has contributed to Fox Enterprise, The Moscow Occasions, Nationwide Evaluation, the New York Submit and plenty of different publications. He could be reached via his web site, LToddWood.com.

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