Crimean bridge: Ukraine claims responsibility for new attack on key bridge



CNN

A Ukrainian security official has claimed responsibility for Kiev in the attack on the bridge linking the annexed Crimean Peninsula to the Russian mainland – a vital supply route for Russia’s war effort in Ukraine and a personal project of the President Vladimir Putin.

The nearly 12-mile crossing, also known as the Kerch Bridge, is the longest in Europe and holds enormous strategic and symbolic importance for Moscow. Monday’s attack on the bridge was the second since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, after an oil tanker exploded crossing it in October.

A source from the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) told CNN that this attack was a joint operation of the SBU and the Ukrainian Naval Forces. The source spoke on condition of anonymity as she had not been granted permission to speak publicly.

Two people were killed and their daughter injured in the attack, according to Russian-appointed officials.

Two strikes were reportedly carried out around 3 a.m. local time Monday (8 p.m. ET Sunday), damaging part of the bridge, according to the Telegram channel Gray Zone, which supports the Wagner mercenary group led by Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Explosions were heard around 3:04 a.m. and 3:20 a.m. local time, gray zone and popular Crimean blogger “TalipoV Online Z” said on Telegram.

CNN is unable to verify this information.

The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, confirmed that two people were killed and a third was injured in the incident.

Gladkov said a girl was injured and her parents were killed while traveling in the car damaged in the incident.

“There is damage to the pavement on the spans of the Crimean Bridge,” the Russian Transport Ministry said on Telegram. The spans of a bridge are the lengths between the supporting piers. Footage showed a partial collapse of a section of the roadway portion of the bridge, which also carries train tracks.

On his Telegram channel, Vladimir Konstantinov, head of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea, blamed the damage to the bridge on a Ukrainian attack.

“Tonight, the terrorist regime in kyiv committed a new crime – it attacked the Crimean Bridge,” Konstantinov said.

“The railway was not damaged by the strike,” Konstantinov added.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that Putin had been briefed on the incident and that Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin would visit Crimea today to further assess the situation.

“We know the reasons and those behind this terrorist act,” Peskov said. “It will require more composure and additional measures and work from all of us. No other measures have been discussed at this time.

Videos posted on Telegram by Baza, Gray Zone and other Crimean outlets appeared to show that part of the bridge collapsed and a vehicle was damaged in the incident.

Rescue workers and law enforcement have been dispatched to the scene, said Sergey Aksenov, the Crimean chief appointed by Russia.

Aksenov urged residents and those traveling to and from Crimea to choose an alternative land route.

The bridge is an essential artery to supply Crimea both for its daily needs and for the military, in addition to fuel and goods for civilians.

A Russian-backed official on the peninsula, Elena Elekchyan, said Crimea was well supplied with fuel, food and industrial goods.

Denis Pushilin, the Russian-backed leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, said on Telegram that he had spoken with his counterpart in Crimea to introduce measures “to ensure faster passage from checkpoints to the administrative border”. Pushilin said the night curfew was suspended to allow “24-hour” travel in Crimea, and he was working to ensure fuel availability at gas stations along the route.

Last year, another huge explosion partially damaged the crossing, causing parts to collapse.

The bridge was badly damaged on October 8 when a tank truck exploded and destroyed much of the road. In response to the attack – which took place the day after Putin turned 70 – Ukrainian officials released a video of the burning bridge alongside a video of Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. “.

Russia built the 19-kilometre bridge at a cost of around $3.7 billion after Moscow illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. It was the physical expression of Russian President Vladimir’s goal Putin to take control of Ukraine and bind it forever to Russia.

Russian investigators work on site on the damaged section of the bridge on July 17, 2023.

After the October explosion, Russia quickly began repairs to the span. It was fully reopened to traffic in February.

Earlier this month, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar made what appeared to be the clearest admission yet that Ukrainian forces were responsible for the October attack.

A Ukrainian official said on Monday that damage to the bridge could hamper Russian logistics.

“All the logistical problems are additional complications for the occupiers, which create potential advantages for the Ukrainian defense forces,” Ukraine’s defense intelligence representative Andrii Yusov told Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspilne.

Hours after the blasts at the bridge, Russia announced it was allowing the expiration of a deal struck to allow the export of grain from Ukraine, sparking fears of global food insecurity.

Peskov also told reporters that the decision to allow the agreement to expire was unrelated to Ukraine’s alleged bridge strike.

“These are absolutely unrelated events,” he said. “Even before this terrorist attack, the position was declared by President Putin. And I repeat, as soon as the part of the Black Sea agreements concerning Russia is fulfilled, Russia will immediately return to the implementation of the agreement.

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