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In a recent interview with CNN, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that Ukraine will continue to attack targets in Russian-occupied Crimea to reduce Russia's fighting capacity and "help save the lives of Ukrainians."
When asked if the goal is to destroy the Crimean Bridge, Reznikov replied that ruining "the logistic lines of your enemy to stop the options to get more ammunition, to get more fuel, to get more food" is part of normal military tactics.
His words echo Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's speech at the Aspen Security Forum on July 21 during which he said that the bridge is a legitimate target for Ukraine and must be "neutralized" due to its role in militarizing the Crimean Peninsula.
"This is an enemy facility built outside international law, so understandably, it is a [military] objective."
Russia claimed Ukraine was responsible for the explosions on the Crimean Bridge on July 17, which caused significant damage to a section of the bridge's road. Kyiv did not claim responsibility for the alleged attack, nor deny it.
Instead of taking direct responsibility immediately after an attack on a target in Russian-occupied territories, Ukrainian officials will at times make cryptic hints.
“Nightingale, my dear brother, the bridge has gone to sleep again. And once… Twice!” Ukraine’s Security Service said on Telegram, linking to a post from October 2022 referring to a previous attack on the Crimean Bridge. The nightingale is a reference to a work of the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko.
On July 24, the Russian proxy in Ukraine Sergey Aksyonov, claimed that in another attack, Ukrainian drones had caused an explosion at an ammunition depot in the peninsula's Dzhankoi region.
In response to the claim, Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov wrote on Telegram that "Whatever happens, there will be more of it."
Together with other ministries, Fedorov co-founded the “Army of Drones," a project that expedites the process of bringing drones to the battlefield.
On July 22, however, the Ukrainian military directly confirmed it had attacked an oil depot and Russian military warehouses in Russian-occupied Crimea.
The attacks come after reports earlier in July that Russia is fortifying its defenses in occupied Crimea to prepare for a potential Ukrainian advance.
The Defense Ministry’s Military Media Center reported on July 8 that fortifications have reportedly been erected in the northern, western, and eastern parts of the occupied peninsula
In his interview with CNN, Reznikov also discussed his forecast for the coming year, suggesting that the NATO summit in Washington D.C. next summer could "be a very important day for Ukraine."
He added that NATO membership for Ukraine will be in NATO's own interest due to Ukraine's role as Europe's "eastern shield" and given that Ukrainians have real experience in deterring Russia.
When asked by CNN if he thinks the war will be won by the 2024 summit, Reznikov replied "yes, and we will win this war," but that Ukraine needs U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to do so.
He said that training for Ukrainian pilots, technicians and engineers for F-16s will begin next month in Denmark and the Netherlands.