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Russian Officer Jailed 6 Years for Crimea Bridge Drone Defense Failure

Repair work on the Crimea bridge. Rosavtodor

A Russian National Guard officer has been sentenced to six years in prison for buying anti-drone radars that failed to protect the Russian-built Crimea bridge from attacks, media reported Tuesday.

Colonel Sergei Volkov, who previously headed Rosgvardia’s naval unit, was detained in March 2023 on charges of abuse of office for signing a contract on the purchase of two Oryol-BPLA radar systems for 400 million rubles ($4.5 million). 

Investigators argued that Volkov left the Crimea bridge “within range of enemy fire” because the radars’ technical characteristics were not designed to suppress the Ukrainian drones, according to the Kommersant business daily.

Volkov denied his guilt, maintaining that the contract was signed with a single state supplier and the anti-drone radars were meant to protect the National Guard unit instead of the Crimea bridge, according to the state-run TASS news agency.

Moscow’s Second Western Military Garrison Court found Volkov guilty and sentenced him to six years in general-security prison, according to the independent Mediazona news website.

Prosecutors had asked to jail Volkov for seven years.

The court rejected prosecutors’ request to strip Volkov of his military rank and awards.

But it granted Russia’s National Guard the right to file a civil lawsuit against Volkov.

Volkov is expected to appeal the sentence.

Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, has been targeted by Kyiv throughout Moscow's full-scale invasion. The Black Sea peninsula has recently come under more intense attacks as Ukrainian authorities say they plan to retake the peninsula.

Kyiv has repeatedly targeted the Crimea bridge, which links the peninsula to the Russian mainland and serves as a key supply line for Moscow’s army.

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