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17 Jul, 2023 10:23

New Ukrainian attack on Crimean Bridge: What we know so far

A raid by two sea drones damaged a section of roadway and killed two civilians, according to Moscow
New Ukrainian attack on Crimean Bridge: What we know so far

Russia has accused Ukraine of staging another attack on the Crimean Bridge, which claimed the lives of two civilians and injured a child. The incident also resulted in considerable damage to one section of the roadway.

What happened?

In the early hours of Monday morning, Crimean Governor Sergey Aksyonov said traffic on the key link between the peninsula and mainland Russia had been stopped. At the time, he did not clarify the reason for the move, citing an unspecified “emergency.” 

Later, Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov stated the incident had claimed the lives of a married couple from his region, adding that their daughter had been injured.

Who’s to blame?

Russia’s National Antiterrorist Committee (NAK) said the Crimean Bridge had been targeted by a Ukrainian “terrorist attack.” It stated the attack had involved two Ukrainian unmanned maritime surface drones and had taken place at around 3am local time.

Several Ukrainian media outlets also reported that the bridge had been attacked by sea drones, describing the raid as a “special operation” conducted by the country’s security services and naval forces.

While Ukrainian officials have stopped short of claiming responsibility, they welcomed the incident. Writing on Twitter, Mikhail Podoliak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, said that “any illegal structures” used by Russia to supply its troops are “necessarily short-lived... regardless of the reasons for the destruction.” 

Andrey Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (GUR), claimed the Crimean Bridge is a “redundant construction.” 

Moscow’s reaction

Commenting on the raid, Kremlin Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said that Moscow “knows who is behind the terror attack.” He added that while law enforcement agencies continuously seek to enhance security, “there are no discussions” at present about additional measures in this regard.

Alleged Western complicity

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also accused Ukraine of staging the attack, claiming that “[the Kiev] regime is terrorist and has all the hallmarks of being an international terrorist group.” 

She alleged that decisions by Ukrainian policymakers are made “with the direct participation of American and British intelligence services and politicians.” 

Damage to the bridge

According to Russia’s Ministry of Transport, the road surface has been damaged on one of the bridge’s tracks. However, the ministry noted that the attack did not cause more serious destruction, explaining that “the span constructions remain on their supports.” 

The statement was consistent with several videos from the scene which showed one partially collapsed section of the roadway, but no other visible damage to the structure.

According to Kremlin spokesman Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin has instructed Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin to organize repairs to the bridge.

Transport implications

Following the incident, Russian authorities halted traffic on the bridge and urged motorists to use other routes into Crimea, particularly those that pass through former Ukrainian regions that voted to join Russia last autumn.

Railway service was restored within several hours, although some trains were delayed.

Previous Ukrainian attacks

Last week, the Russian Defense Ministry said that Ukraine had attempted to strike the bridge using a repurposed S-200 air defense missile that failed to penetrate air defenses.

In October 2022, Moscow accused Ukraine of staging a deadly truck bombing on the bridge, claiming that it was orchestrated by Kiev’s intelligence services. At the time, Russia responded by intensifying missile strikes on Ukraine’s military and energy infrastructure.