Long before the Kerch crisis and aggression against Ukraine in the Black Sea, Russia had been preparing information-wise for the escalation of the conflict and justification of its maritime aggression through various fake stories, including around the problematic Kerch Strait bridge, according to Taras Berezovets, a political technologist, head of Berta Communications and co-founder of Ukrainian Institute for the Future.

"This is absolutely true. In fact, these fakes began to appear back during the construction of the Kerch Bridge, starting from 2015, when Russian television, Russian speakers, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov, started claiming that Ukraine had allegedly been plotting terror attacks, even training 'combat divers,' and that mines would be planted under the bridge, etc," the expert told the Segodnya newspaper, commenting on the relevant publication in The Guardian.

"In my opinion, the Russian Federation does this primarily because it is looking for a pretext to declare war. The bridge itself, according to satellite data, began to shift. Tectonic plates running along the bottom of the Kerch Strait is as if your two legs stand on two different shores: one is on the Kerch peninsula, and the other – on the Taman one. Then the upper platform on which you are standing starts to move upwards, while another one – downwards. Almost the same is happening with the bridge, that is, it will simply snap in one moment," he said.

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At the same time, explaining the Kremlin's propaganda logic, Berezovets noted that Russia would not recognize reports of technology violations during bridge construction, while it's much more convenient for the Russian Federation to accuse Ukraine, claiming that the Ukrainians "mined" it, "taking this as a pretext for declaring war."

The political consultant added the Azov Sea was of interest to Russia, first of all, in terms of blocking ports in Berdyansk and Mariupol, incurring economic damage on Ukraine and its economy. Secondly, this is about causing social discontent, since thousands of people are losing their jobs. And thirdly, this is about resolving the critical situation of drinking water in the occupied Crimea.

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"They [occupiers] are already approaching the point of no return. According to a recently published report with the environmentalists' forecast, 2019 will be the hottest year in the history of mankind. This means the Crimean reservoirs, in which the water level drop was over 50% compared with the pre-occupation periods, will dry out. That is, they have half the water there was there before Russian troops crossed into Crimea. Therefore, Russia is not able to supply drinking water to almost three million people in Crimea. The water there is of very poor quality. At the same time, the occupiers in every possible way conceal information about the growth of respiratory and oncological diseases rate due to the fact that the lack of water causes increased air dryness, spreading of harmful substances, and as a result – respiratory diseases with oncological illnesses. Therefore, it is critically important for occupiers to get access to Ukrainian water," he said.

As Berezovets added, thus, the invaders will either issue an ultimatum, blocking the passage of vessels through the Kerch Strait under any flags, if Kyiv does not supply water to Crimea, or they can launch military ground operation against Ukraine 'to seize part of Kherson region to re-open the locks."

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"They are preparing for both options. Therefore, I do not rule out that blackmail will start first, and if it does not work, they will completely block the Kerch Strait, they will not let anyone into the Sea of Azov. If this blackmail does not work either, they are preparing for a ground operation," the expert said.

As UNIAN reported earlier, according to The Guardian, the Kremlin launched a year-long disinformation campaign to soften up public opinion before its recent seizure of three Ukrainian ships and their crews in the Sea of Azov. Russian media reported that British and Ukrainian secret services had been trying to transport a nuclear bomb to the newly built bridge to occupied Crimea in order to blow it up, but had been bravely prevented from doing so by special forces sent by Moscow.