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February 22, 2024

Ukraine Strikes Deep Into Russia, Paralyzing Key Railway

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Dec 1, 2023

SBU Behind Devastating Attacks on Strategic Rail Lines

Ukraine has claimed responsibility for a series of brazen attacks on Russia’s railway infrastructure, including a blast that severely damaged the tunnel connecting Russia’s railway network to China. According to sources in Ukraine’s SBU state security service, Ukrainian special forces carried out a series of coordinated explosions targeting freight trains and critical rail junctions in Russia’s far east.

The most high-profile attack targeted the Severomuisk railway tunnel in the republic of Buryatia, which forms part of the key Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) that links Russia’s Trans-Siberian railway to China. Sources say that late Wednesday night, Ukrainian operatives set off a series of explosions inside a freight train carrying fuel as it was passing through the 15-kilometer Severomuisk tunnel, Russia’s longest.

The powerful blasts sparked a raging fire inside the tunnel and led to a partial collapse of the concrete reinforced ceiling. At least 5 arches supporting the tunnel were destroyed over a length of 300 meters. Russian Investigative authorities who accessed the wreckage are said to have determined that the incident was a deliberate "terrorist act."

Strategic Tunnel Sabotaged, Rail Link to China Severed

The attack succeeded in completely cutting off the BAM line along the most direct route between northeast China and Russia’s industrial heartland. Already on Thursday, reports emerged of massive freight backlogs building up on both sides of the collapsed tunnel.

Analysts say the economic impact could be immense, as millions of dollars worth of traffic passes through the corridor daily. The tunnel and adjacent rail lines transport 30 percent of all Chinese exports to Europe. But now, all rail traffic has ground to a halt, with no easy bypass available through the mountainous terrain.

"This was a perfectly executed sabotage mission striking at a vulnerable chokepoint with maximum impact," said rail infrastructure expert Alex Ivanov. "Repairing that kind of damage will take many months and require specialized equipment. Russia is really up against the wall here."

The successful strike comes as Russia is increasingly dependent on trade with China to mitigate Western sanctions. An anonymously sourced report by the SBU claims their operatives spent over a month reconnoitering the tunnel and planning the synchronized attack.

If so, the covert operation displays impressive reach by Ukrainian special forces, striking over 5,000 km away from the frontlines into a highly secure area. Sources say this was facilitated through collaboration with local partisan groups in Buryatia.

Second Freight Train Exploded in Remote Area

In another incident likely linked to the tunnel bombing, residents in the Buryatia mountains reported hearing a massive midnight explosion on Thursday. First responders arriving at the scene found a freight train had been ripped open by a blast 32 km from the Severomuisk Tunnel.

At least four tanker cars carrying fuel were turned into mangled, burnt-out wrecks. Although no casualties were reported, the scale of damage indicates that a powerful explosive device detonated from within or beneath the train.

Sustained Campaign of Attacks Across Russia

The tunnel sabotage represents the most dramatic strike so far in an escalating Ukrainian covert campaign deep inside Russian territory. Observers have noted over a dozen unexplained fires, explosions, and infrastructure breakdowns across Russia in just the past two weeks.

Ukrainian officials have remained coy when questioned, but influential figures have lauded the shadowy attacks.

  • "The fires and explosions orchestrated by our special forces in occupied regions and inside Russia demonstrate that the Kremlin cannot protect critical infrastructure even hundreds of kilometers inside their borders,” tweeted Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolak.

Just one day prior, Ukrainian rail workers in the Moscow Oblast detected explosives planted on high voltage transformer equipment servicing commuter routes around the Russian capital. The devices failed to detonate, but their discovery triggered major rail delays.

Russia Vows Revenge While Struggling to Respond

Kremlin authorities appear caught off-balance by the intensifying Ukrainian sabotage efforts and inability to stop them. Hardline Russian senators have reacted furiously, with demands for heavy bombardment of Ukrainian cities in revenge.

“We need to stop playing nice. For every bridge of ours they blow up, we must destroy 100 buildings on their territory,” raged Senator Sergey Mironov

However, Russia may lack capabilities to effectively retaliate. Their attempts at precise missile strikes have shown poor accuracy. Area bombing risks provoking further Western ire and aid for Ukraine.

With key supply routes now nearly paralyzed, Russian forces in Ukraine could face critical shortages, impacting their ability to sustain operations through the winter. Meanwhile, partisan actions have emerged across border areas, further straining security services.

Prolonged Economic Disruption Across Asia Expected

As Russia scrambles to repair its wrecked infrastructure, observers warn of far-reaching economic impacts across Northern Asia lasting months or longer. The severed Trans-Siberian railway artery had carried over 200 million tons of freight in 2021, valued at $75 billion.

  • "This chokepoint attack risks supply chain chaos. Trains can’t easily bypass that tunnel. Products will need to reroute thousands of extra kilometers on costly cargo ships adding weeks of delay," said Andrei Klimov, Director of the Asia-Pacific Supply Chain Institute.

China could experience acute short-term pain as well. The halted Russian route provided affordable overland access to European markets, generating over $30 billion in trade annually. Exporters now face a dilemma of absorbing higher shipping costs or raising prices and losing market share. Electronics, clothes, toys and other low-margin Chinese goods could be worst affected.

Diplomatic tensions may also emerge between China and Russia over the crippling of a strategically vital economic corridor Beijing helped finance. Yet China still relies heavily on Russian energy imports and shares security concerns about Western influence in the region, disincentivizing any major rift.

Prolonged Ukraine War Predicted

Defense analysts say the audacious railway sabotage operation could signal a turning point in the conflict by foreshadowing an extended partisan-style war.

"This demonstrates Ukraine’s capability and willingness to take the fight directly to Russia’s home territory with aggressive, clandestine attacks on infrastructure. It’s extremely difficult to protect thousands of kilometers of railway across Siberia. Russia will be stretched thin trying to guard everything," explained Janusz Bugajski of the Center for European Policy Analysis.

By disrupting Russian resupply efforts, partisan actions could undermine military capabilities in Ukraine over a prolonged period.

"The SBU is essentially opening up a second front thousands of miles inside Russia that Moscow is ill-equipped to counter," Bugajski added. "That’s the hallmark of a revolutionary approach to resisting a conventionally superior foe."

With infrastructure losses mounting and Ukraine’s Western backers resolute, there appears no end in sight to the conflict. President Zelenskyy has vigorously affirmed his country’s determination to recapture all occupied territory, regardless of how long it takes. Russia still retains a vast military advantage on paper, but its struggles against an increasingly aggressive and innovative Ukrainian resistance point toward a grinding war of attrition lasting years.

Could Further Attacks Be Coming?

While Russia attempts to reinforce its vulnerable strategic sites, analysts say that Ukraine may conduct additional high-profile sabotage operations in the future.

"This daring tunnel attack seems carefully designed both for immediate and symbolic impact to really put Russia on the backfoot. It’s simultaneously hugely damaging while signaling Ukraine’s vastly expanded reach," said Russian affairs journalist Marina Litvak. "I’d expect similar statements to come."

Potential targets could include bridges, power plants, munition depots, fuel storage facilities, railways, and chokepoint transport arteries deep inside Russia. With Russia diverting resources to defend a vast land border, critical infrastructure often remains vulnerable.

Ukraine also recently received a major boost via the latest $800 million security assistance package approved by the United States. Further aid to enhance Ukraine’s long-range strike capabilities may be forthcoming after this stunning demonstration of strategic impact.

For Russia, shoring up thousands of miles of supply lines while battling tenacious resistance along a 1,000 kilometer front presents a monumental challenge. And with fears of further debilitating attacks growing, easy solutions appear lacking.


Damaged Tunnel Length 300 meters
Destroyed Concrete Arches 5
Annual Russia-China Rail Trade Value $75 billion
Share Destined for Europe 30 percent
Annual Tunnel Traffic 200 million tons
Delay Adding Ship Rerouting +2-4 weeks
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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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