Vehicular traffic on the only bridge connecting Russia with Moscow-annexed Crimea, and which is a major supply route for Kremlin forces in the war with Ukraine, was cut off on Monday, July 17, after one of its sections were blown up in an explosion that also killed a married couple and injured their daughter.
Rail traffic, initially interrupted, resumed after a break of about six hours.
The attack was the work of two Ukrainian aquatic drones, according to Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee.
The Ukrainian authorities avoided clearly claiming responsibility, as has happened in previous attacks. But in what appeared to be a tacit admission, Ukrainian Security Service spokesman Artem Degtyarenko said in a statement that his agency would reveal details about how the “bang” was organized once Ukraine had won the war.
It is the second major blow to the bridge since October, when a truck bomb blew up two sections.
A video posted by online news channel Crimea 24 showed a section of the bridge tilted and dangling, though no pieces appeared to have fallen into the water.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin told reporters authorities were conducting a detailed inspection of the damage before determining how long it would take to repair it.
The Kerch Bridge is a colorful symbol of Moscow’s claims to Crimea and a crucial connection to the peninsula, which Russia captured from Ukraine in 2014. The $3.6 billion bridge is the longest in Europe and crucial to military operations. Russian forces in southern Ukraine in the war that is now almost 17 months old.
Russia has increased its presence in Crimea since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022. Since then there have been occasional acts of sabotage and other attacks against the Russian military and other facilities on the peninsula, which the Kremlin has blamed. to Ukraine.
Follow the Ukrainian counteroffensive
The attack on the bridge came as Ukrainian forces are trying to advance a counteroffensive at various points on the front. It also came just hours before Russia, as expected, announced the suspension of a United Nations-Turkish brokered deal allowing Ukrainian grain to be exported during the war.
kyiv also did not immediately acknowledge the October explosion at the bridge, although Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar acknowledged this month that Ukraine had orchestrated it to hit Russian logistics.
At that time, Moscow dismissed the event as a terrorist act and promised to redouble its attacks against Ukrainian civilian infrastructure. Over the winter it hit the Ukrainian energy grid.
Dmitry Medvedev, number two on the Russian Security Council, recovered that position on Monday and branded the Ukrainian government a “terrorist organization”.
“We must blow up their houses and the houses of their relatives, search for and eliminate their accomplices,” he said.
A couple died in the attack
The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said the attack had killed a couple from the region and their daughter was hospitalized with serious injuries.
The Russian authorities indicated that the attack had not affected the pillars, but rather the roof in a section of one of the two road lanes. The damage appeared less severe than in the October attack, which took months to repair.
Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence department, declined to comment Monday on the incident, though he said that “the Russians use the peninsula as a large logistics base to move forces and assets into the heart of Ukraine. Of course, any logistical problems are additional complications for the occupants.”
The Security Service of Ukraine published a modified version of a popular lullaby to say that the bridge “went back to sleep.”