An apparent truck explosion caused the partial collapse of a road and rail bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula with Russia early Saturday, damaging a conduit that is essential for sustaining Russia’s military operations in southern Ukraine.
Moscow stopped short of assigning blame, but the speaker of Crimea’s Kremlin-backed regional parliament immediately accused Ukraine, while downplaying the severity of the damage.
“Now they have something to be proud of: over 23 years of their management, they didn’t manage to build anything worthy of attention in Crimea, but they’ve managed to damage the surface of the Russian bridge,” Vladimir Konstantinov, chairman of the State Council of the Republic, wrote on Telegram.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova wrote on Telegram, “The Kiev regime’s reaction to the destruction of civilian infrastructure highlights its terrorist nature.”
Kyiv has not officially claimed responsibility, but Ukrainian officials have repeatedly threatened to strike the bridge.
The official Twitter account of Ukraine's government posted “Sick burn.”
The Ukrainian postal service announced it would issue stamps commemorating the blast, saying in a statement that the images would draw on classic film posters to highlight the bridge's “sacred significance” to Moscow. The postal service previously released a set of stamps commemorating the sinking of the Moskva, a Russian flagship cruiser, by a Ukrainian strike in late May.
The truck that reportedly exploded was owned by a resident of the Krasnodar region in southern Russia, Russia’s Investigative Committee said. It noted that investigators arrived at his home as part of the inquiry and are looking at the truck’s route and other details.
The blast occurred even though all vehicles driving across the bridge undergo automatic checks for explosives by state-of-the-art control systems. That the truck was apparently missed has drawn a stream of critical comments from Russian war bloggers.
The 19-kilometer bridge across the Kerch Strait linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov opened in 2018 and is the longest in Europe. The $3.6 billion project is a tangible symbol of Moscow’s claims on Crimea, and it has provided an essential link to the peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
While Russia seized areas north of Crimea early on during its invasion and created a land corridor to it along the Sea of Azov, Ukraine is pressing a counteroffensive to reclaim the territories.
The Russian Defense Ministry said troops in the south were receiving necessary supplies through the land corridor and by sea. Russia’s Energy Ministry said Crimea has enough fuel for 15 days and that it was working on ways to replenish stock.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press and Reuters.