Russia’s main rail link to China has been left paralyzed after Ukraine’s Security Service blew up a tunnel in the Russian republic of Buryatia, it has been reported. The explosions in the Severomuysky Tunnel were masterminded by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), “paralyzing the only serious route of railway communication between the Russian Federation and China,” news outlet RBC-Ukraine reported on Thursday, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.
Ukraine’s SBU told Newsweek that officially, it can “neither confirm nor deny
involvement” in the incident, but added that “death is the only prospect we can offer to the occupiers” who have “brought war, loss of life and violence to our land.” “We will be able to talk about who is behind this or that case after our victory. Which will definitely come soon,” the SBU added.
The Severomuysky Tunnel is a railroad connection on the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) in northwestern Buryatia. The Soviet-built BAM is a crucial transit railway that cuts through Siberia and is used to deliver cargo shipments to Asia. It is one of the world’s longest railway networks, stretching around 4,300 kilometers, or almost 2,700 miles. Russian President Vladimir Putin has pushed to modernize the country’s railways, including the BAM, in order to handle the rapid increase in freight traffic from China to Europe, and to reduce transport times between ports in Russia’s Far East and the country’s western border.
An RBC-Ukraine source said that Russia used the route for military supplies.
Russian-language Telegram channel Baza, which is linked to Russia’s security services, said that a fuel tank caught fire while moving through the tunnel in Buryatia in the early hours of Thursday. “It was probably sabotage,” the channel reported Thursday, adding that there were no casualties. “What caused the fire is still unknown. Police and FSB officers are working on the spot. Also, police and special services officers are working on the train parking areas,” Baza reported.
Ukrainian publication Ukrainska Pravda also reported that the tunnel was blown up by the SBU. “Four explosive devices went off during the movement of the freight train. Now the FSB is working on the spot, and railway workers are unsuccessfully trying to minimize the consequences of the SBU’s special operation,” a source told Ukrainska Pravda.
Comment: The first question is what is the truth. Since both Ukrainian and Russian sources agree that some accident happened in the tunnel, we can rely on that fact. Beyond that, who knows. This is a single track line through the mountain, but it is not the only Russian line across Siberia. I found a video on the tunnel’s construction. It appears to be Soviet-style solid so even multiple explosions and a subsequent fire on the train may do little damage. It will be a matter of a major clean up and minimal repairs.
I’m fairly confident this is the work of SBU or SBU led partisan sabotage. Since early in the war, things all across Russia have been catching fire and blowing up. I doubt it’s all due to industrial accidents. This concentration of UW activities across both the occupied territories and Russia is a product of Ukraine’s total national defense doctrine and, I’d like to think, many years of MTTs from 10th SFG(A). This was our reason for being ever since the group’s activation in 1952.