A massive fire sparked by a car bomb disrupted traffic on the Crimea Bridge, a key site and symbol of Ukraine’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee said, without blaming Ukraine.
Images of the bridge circulating on the Internet show a burning railway dozens of meters away and a part of the highway collapsed.
The importance of the Crimea Bridge?
The Crimea Bridge or Kerch Strait Bridge is the longest bridge in Europe, connecting the Crimea and the Russian side of Krasnodar, crossing the Kerch Strait, with a length of 19 km (12 miles).
There are 2 parallel bridges, one for vehicle traffic and one for trains.
Russia built the bridge after annexing Crimea in 2014 at the start of its invasion of Ukraine, costing $3.7 billion and becoming a symbol of annexation.
In January 2015, a multimillion-dollar contract was signed for its construction.
The works began in May 2015 and opened on May 15, 2018.
Russian President Vladimir Putin personally drove the truck for the 2018 inauguration, which cost more than $3 billion.
This bridge is necessary for transporting people and goods on the peninsula, as well as for troops stationed in Ukraine.
The bridge connects the southern region of Krasnodar with the Crimean city of Kerch, in the strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
The bridge, built at great expense by order of President Vladimir Putin to connect the peninsula, which Moscow annexed, to Russian territory, is mainly used to transport military equipment for the Russian army fighting in Ukraine.
For the Russian population of Crimea, this bridge is a lifeline that connects them to their homeland.
Given its great importance to Moscow, in 2019 Russia established a hard-to-penetrate security shield.
Russian authorities also deployed a powerful air defense system to protect the famous bridge.
The bridge was built with buttresses, which are massive concrete and steel structures.
It is worth noting that Crimea is a popular holiday destination for Russians with its beaches and mountains, and tourists from Russia are one of the main sources of income for the Black Sea Peninsula.
a violent explosion
The explosion severely damaged the bridge. Russia’s Investigative Committee said it had “opened a criminal investigation into the Crimean bridge accident” and explained that the explosion took place “after a truck exploded”.
He added: “Today at 06:07 (03:07 GMT) on the Crimean bridge stretch of road (…) a car bomb exploded, setting fire to seven tankers bound for the Crimean Peninsula.”
In turn, the Committee Against Terrorism noted that “two lanes of the road partially collapsed” and noted that the bridge arch was not damaged.
And if Ukraine was behind the Crimea bridge fire and explosion, it would be a severe blow to Russia, as Ukrainian forces could damage vital infrastructure far from the front lines.
Russia has suffered a series of military setbacks since early September as its forces were forced to withdraw in the northeast and south of the country, particularly in the Kherson region bordering Crimea, which Putin annexed.
A Kremlin representative told RIA Novosti that Vladimir Putin ordered the creation of a government commission to investigate the facts.
Russian news agencies reported that road and rail traffic was suspended and ferries were installed to allow the crossing.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, the country’s top investigative body, promised to identify “all persons linked to this crime” and launched a criminal investigation.
Vladimir Konstantinov, head of the Crimean parliament, created by Russia, condemned the attack by “Ukrainian saboteurs”.
Ukraine did not comment, but the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, tweeted an emoji of a bridge amid clouds of smoke.
“Everything illegal must be destroyed and everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine,” Mykhailo Podoliak, another adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, wrote on Twitter.
Kirill Strymosov, a representative of the Russian occupation authorities in Ukraine’s Kherson region, bordering Crimea, posted on his Telegram account a video surveillance camera from the bridge showing the violent explosion.
He added that the renewal could “take two months”.
Russia insists the bridge is safe despite fighting in Ukraine, but in the past it has threatened Kyiv with retaliation if Ukrainian forces attack it or other infrastructure in Crimea.
Russian lawmaker Oleg Morozov was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency as calling for an “appropriate” response on Saturday, stressing that “these types of terrorist attacks will multiply” if this is not done.
In recent months, there have been several explosions at Russian military installations on the peninsula, believed to be the result of Ukrainian operations, such as when the Dzhankoy military base was destroyed in August by an explosion in an ammunition depot, which caused the evacuation of tourists. from the zone
Russian authorities did not provide enough information about Jankoi and similar incidents in other parts of Russia, but rather on weapons depots near the Ukrainian border.
At Jangkoi, Moscow finally admitted to the “sabotage”, and the Ukrainian military admitted responsibility a few weeks later.
Since the beginning of September, Russian forces have been forced to withdraw at many points on the front. In particular, he was forced to withdraw from the Kharkiv region (northeast) and retreat to the Kherson region.
Faced with this failure of Ukraine’s zealous armed forces, backed by Western weapons, President Putin ordered the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of reservists, or civilians, in late September to reverse the trend.
He also ordered the annexation of four regions of Ukraine, although Moscow only partially controls them.
Ukraine announced that it had recaptured thousands of square kilometers since early September and launched a counter-offensive at various points along the front.
And the only battleground where Moscow currently has the upper hand is near the town of Bakhmut in the eastern Donetsk region, which Russian forces have been trying to capture since August.
The failure of the last few weeks has reached such a level that the army and its leadership are being criticized by prominent personalities, including in the state media.
I’m Harold O’Connor and I work as an author and editor for News Unrolled, a news website dedicated to delivering the latest world events. With my in-depth research skills, passion for news writing, and keen eye for detail, I strive to provide readers with accurate information on current affairs from around the globe.