Part of bridge linking Russia to Crimea destroyed in suspected Ukrainian strikeOctober 8, 2022
Part of a crucial bridge linking Russia and Crimea has been destroyed in a suspected Ukrainian strike.
Russian authorities said a truck bomb brought down of a section of the Kerch bridge — a key supply artery for their faltering war effort in southern Ukraine.
The speaker of Crimea’s Kremlin-backed regional parliament immediately accused Ukraine, though Moscow didn’t apportion blame.
Ukrainian officials have repeatedly threatened to strike the bridge and some lauded the attack, but Kyiv stopped short of claiming responsibility.
The attack comes a day after Vladimir Putin turned 70.
Oleksiy Danilov, head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, posted a video of the burning bridge alongside a video of Marilyn Monroe singing ‘Happy birthday, Mr President’.
Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said the explosion caused seven railway cars carrying fuel to ignite, resulting in a ‘partial collapse of two sections of the bridge’.
A Ukrainian presidential adviser posted a message on Twitter saying the incident was just ‘the beginning’.
Mykhailo Podolyak stopped short of saying Ukrainian forces were responsible for the blast, but wrote: ‘Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything that is stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled.’
The Crimean Peninsula holds symbolic value for Russia and is key to sustaining its military operations in the south.
If the bridge is made inoperable, it would make it significantly more challenging to ferry supplies to the headland.
While Russia seized the areas north of Crimea early during the invasion and built a land corridor to it along the Sea of Azov, Ukraine is pressing a counteroffensive to reclaim them.
The Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee said two sections of road bridge had partially collapsed, but that the arch spanning the Kerch Strait, the waterway through which ships travel between the Black Sea and Azov Sea, was not damaged.
Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian governor of Crimea, said on social media that the road bridge was still intact in one direction, although traffic was suspended while the damage was assessed.
Images showed thick smoke pouring from part of the structure.
Putin has instructed the government to create a state commission to investigate the incident, TASS news agency reported, citing Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Interfax quoted the chairman of the Crimean republic’s State Council, Vladimir Konstantinov, as saying that ‘Ukrainian vandals managed to reach for the Crimean bridge with their bloody hands’.
‘They now have something to be proud of,’ he said.
‘In their 23 years of economic activity they failed to build anything worthy of attention in Crimea, but (now) they have managed to damage the roadway of the Russian bridge.’
Konstantinov said the damage was ‘not of a severe nature’ and would be quickly repaired.
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