The bridge connecting the peninsula with mainland Russia was badly hit on Saturday
A truck blew up on the Crimean Bridge early on Saturday, causing significant damage to a piece of infrastructure that is vital to Russia in its military operation in Ukraine. Three people were killed as a result of the blast, which temporarily halted both automobile and railway traffic.
The powerful explosion occurred on the Crimean Bridge, which connects the Russian peninsula of Crimea to the country’s Krasnodar Region, at around 6am local time on Saturday. It caused a partial collapse of the road used by automobiles and a blaze on a parallel railway section where seven fuel tanks caught fire. Traffic on the whole bridge was stopped due to the incident.
Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said that a truck blew up as it was traveling along the 19-km-long structure. The CCTV videos from the scene also showed a lorry exploding.
At least three people were killed as a result of the explosion, according to the Investigative Committee. They’re believed to be the driver and passengers of a car that was attempting to overtake the truck at the moment it blew up. Two bodies have already been retrieved from the waters of the Kerch Strait.
Helicopters were deployed to tackle the blaze, which was extinguished several hours after the explosion. The undamaged part of the bridge was reopened with one lane available for traffic in both directions starting at 4pm local time, the Transport Ministry said. Trains will be running again from 8pm, it added. It’s not yet clear how long it will take to repair the damaged section. The Crimean authorities said that ferry service would also be provided to those looking to cross between the peninsula and mainland.
A criminal investigation has been launched, with law enforcement agencies having already identified the owner of the truck that exploded as being a resident of Russia’s Krasnodar Region. A search has been carried out at the man’s home.
How did the two sides react?
Kiev stopped short of claiming responsibility for the attack, but an aide to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, Mikhail Podoliak, warned Russia that what happened at the bridge was
“just the beginning.”
The incident was also celebrated on social media by Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) and the country’s Defense Ministry, with the latter claiming that one of the
“notorious symbols of Russian power in Ukrainian Crimea” has “gone down.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram that the reaction of Ukrainian officials testified to the
“terrorist nature” of the government in Kiev.
An unnamed Ukrainian government official told the Washington Post that Ukrainian special services were behind the explosion. This followed a report by Ukrainian outlet Ukrainska Pravda, which cited a source in the country’s security services, claiming that the attack was masterminded by the SBU.
Why is the Crimean Bridge important?
Construction of the bridge, which is also called the Kerch Bridge, started two years after Crimea overwhelmingly voted to join Russia in a referendum in 2014. It was completed in 2018, with the 19-km-long structure – the longest bridge in Europe – becoming a symbol of the peninsula’s reunification with Russia.
During the conflict in Ukraine, Russia has been using the bridge to transport armored vehicles and other military hardware and cargo. Several Ukrainian officials and military commanders have in recent months issued threats that the bridge could become a target.
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