The explosion on Russia's road-and-rail bridge to Crimea Saturday was a "personal slap" at Russian President Vladimir Putin that is "daring him to do something extreme or exposing him as a weakling to Russians," and that response could include the use of a weapon of mass destruction, top intelligence expert John Jordan warned on Newsmax Saturday.
"It becomes a question of what are Russia's real military capabilities, and that's a matter of quite a bit of speculation in the West," Jordan, a retired senior Naval intelligence officer, told Newsmax's "Saturday Agenda." "It's believed that Russian conventional military capabilities are largely depleted, which is why they're grabbing people off the street and, you know, emptying prisons and not training people and tossing guys in there with rifles and no equipment."
That leads to a "school of thought" that Russia has exhausted its conventional military capabilities, but many Russians think Putin has withheld many of the military's abilities, he continued.
"The thing is, we're going to find out which is true, because Russia and Putin would rather respond conventionally than with a nuclear weapon; but if they don't have the ability to do so and the Russian military is crippled, Putin is going to have to do something drastic."
Either way, the Russian elites and citizens will "start to question a lot of what they believed about the war in Russian military capabilities," he said. "This puts a lot of pressure on Putin now to do something extreme."
The Crimea bridge has long been considered a prestige symbol of Moscow's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and has been the key supply route for Russian forces in the war against Ukraine.
Russia has not assigned blame for the explosion on the bridge, which crosses over the Kerch Strait, and Ukraine has not yet claimed responsibility. The blast killed three people, according to Russian officials, who said that the people were likely in a cart that was traveling near the truck that exploded, damaging the bridge.
Putin was the first to drive across the 12-mile-long bridge after its construction in 2014, noted Jordan.
"To many Russians, it is emblematic of the union of Crimea and Russia proper," he added. "It's the only way really to drive across from what was Russia without driving through what used to be Ukrainian territory. Now it's Russian control, so it's a really big deal politically."
The explosion comes a day after Putin's birthday as well, adding more pressure on the Russian leader to react, said Jordan.
The bridge is also the main supply route for the Russian 49th Army, which is pinned between the Dnipro River and Ukrainian forces, said Jordan, continuing that there are other Ukrainian troops to the north who are "coming down the west bank of the Danube River in an envelopment maneuver to potentially trap 15,000 to 20,000 Russian troops in the city of Kherson."
"This is one of the primary main supply routes. The other one is under constant artillery fire from the Ukrainians, so this is psychologically and militarily important," he said. "This could be a significant event for the world."
There is some speculation that the explosion could have been launched from a drone or another weapon, despite the Russians' claims that it was from a car bomb; but Jordan said that from looking at the pictures of the blast, "it looks like the energy transfer came from above, which makes the Russian story a little more likely."
"The waters around this bridge are very shallow and are completely controlled by the Russians," he said. "It's hard to see how an asset would get in and out unless it was some sort of super submarine suicide drone that we haven't seen yet. But just looking at the fires and the nature of the damage, it's all on the top part. It's not on the bottom part, and none of the pilings seem to be compromised."
Further, Russia has tracked the truck they believe was the one carrying the explosives "down to a region in Russia" and are now in the process of searching that house and talking to friends and relatives," said Jordan.
"The Russians seem to be moving pretty quickly, as one would expect they would in such a high-profile case," said Jordan. "Experts who know more about this than what I do will look at the nature of the explosive damage and be able to say, really, Where did it come from? But I'm pretty sure they're going to say it came from above or on the roadway."
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Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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