Strategic SitRep 7/10-7/17

U.s. Greenlights Training Ukraine Troops, Crimea Bridge Damaged

Issue # 9

U.S. to Allow F-16 Fighter Jet Training for Ukrainians, Says Biden Administration Official

US Trains Ukraine on f--16

The US has decided to allow European countries to provide training to Ukrainians on F-16 fighter jets, according to a top Biden administration official. This move could prove vital in Ukraine's bid to counteract Russia's air dominance.

Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser, confirmed to CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union," that, "The president has given a green light and we will allow, permit, support, facilitate and in fact provide the necessary tools for Ukrainians to begin being trained on F-16s, as soon as the Europeans are prepared."

This marks a significant policy shift for President Joe Biden, who had previously expressed his skepticism about the need for Ukraine to possess F-16s. As Ukraine's ground forces embark on their counteroffensive, one of their main challenges has been Russian air power, which continues to retain air superiority and makes advancing on the ground difficult.

Earlier in May, Biden informed G7 leaders that the US would back a collective initiative to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation aircraft, including F-16s, although it was uncertain when this training would commence.

The F-16, an American-made jet, boasts air-to-air refueling capabilities and is compatible with most NATO weapons already supplied to Ukraine. Despite its initial production in the 1980s, the jet has undergone several upgrades over the years, making it more sophisticated and versatile than any jet currently in Ukraine's fleet.

So What Does This Mean?

This move by the Biden administration represents a significant step in boosting Ukraine's defense capabilities against Russian aggression. By enabling training on F-16s, the US is indirectly bolstering Ukraine's air force, which could help level the playing field in the ongoing conflict.

However, it's important to note that this policy shift also has broader implications. It signals a more active role by the US and its European allies in the conflict, and could potentially escalate tensions with Russia. It will be crucial to monitor how this development impacts the dynamics of the conflict and the geopolitical landscape of the region.

Critical Supply Route for Russian Troops in Ukraine, Crimea Bridge, Damaged in "Emergency"

Crimea Bridge Explosionn

The Crimea Bridge, a vital logistics route for Russian forces in Ukraine, has suffered significant damage due to an "emergency" that left two people dead and a child injured, Russian authorities reported on Monday (Jul 17). However, Ukrainian media outlets reported explosions on the bridge.

Russian officials halted traffic on the bridge, constructed by Russia to link it with Crimea, a territory it annexed in 2014. Reuters video confirmed the absence of traffic on the bridge.

The 19km long road and rail bridge has been a symbol of President Vladimir Putin's infrastructure accomplishments. Putin personally drove a Mercedes across the bridge in 2022 after its repair post an explosion.

Sergei Aksyonov, a governor installed by Russia, noted the emergency centered around the bridge's 145th pillar, connecting the Crimean peninsula to Russia's Krasnodar region. He did not share further information.

Russia's transport ministry admitted to damage on the bridge's road closer to the Crimean Peninsula, but stated the pillars were unharmed. The ministry did not mention the cause of the damage.

Reports of explosions on the bridge surfaced from the RBC-Ukraine news agency. The Grey Zone channel, a popular Telegram channel associated with the Wagner mercenary group, reported two strikes on the bridge at 03.04am (12.04amGMT) and 03.20am.

A couple was killed and their daughter was injured while in a passenger car on the bridge early Monday, according to Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of Russia's southern Belgorod region. The cause of the fatalities was not clarified.

A photo allegedly depicting a section of the damaged bridge was posted by Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for Ukraine's Odesa military administration, on his Telegram account. It is unclear if this image is related to the reported attack.

So What Does This Mean?

This incident, if confirmed as an intentional attack, could signify a major escalation in the ongoing conflict. The bridge is not only an infrastructural achievement for Russia but also a crucial supply line for its troops in Ukraine. Its damage could severely disrupt logistical operations and potentially hamper the Russian military's efforts.

The occurrence also raises concerns about the intensification of the conflict, with crucial infrastructure becoming a target. The repercussions of this development and its influence on the broader geopolitical dynamics will be significant, as it could provoke a strong reaction from Russia.