(CTN NEWS0 – The traffic flow on the sole bridge connecting Russia to Crimea, which is under Moscow’s control and serves as a vital supply route for the Kremlin’s forces engaged in the conflict with Ukraine, came to a complete halt on Monday.
This interruption was caused by the detonation of a section of the bridge, resulting in the tragic loss of a couple’s lives and injuries to their daughter.
According to the reports from RBC Ukraine news agency, the bridge was subject to explosions, as confirmed by accounts from Russian military bloggers who noted two separate strikes.
The bridge holds immense significance as a vital supply route for Russian forces operating in Ukraine. Here is the available information regarding the bridge and the incident:
What occurred on the bridge?
According to Russian authorities, the bridge sustained damage when one of its sections was deliberately destroyed. Tragically, this act resulted in the loss of two lives and caused injuries to a child.
Russia’s National Antiterrorism Committee stated that the strike on the 19km (12-mile) Kerch Bridge was executed by two Ukrainian sea drones.
Grey Zone, a highly followed Telegram channel associated with the Wagner mercenary group, reported that there were two separate strikes on the bridge. These occurred at 3:04 am (00:04 GMT) and 3:20 am (00:20 GMT) on Monday.
A video shared by the online news channel Crimea 24 displayed a portion of the bridge tilted and hanging, but there was no indication of any section falling into the water.
Russian authorities clarified that the attack did not affect the bridge piers, but it caused damage to the decking in a section of one of the two road links.
Rail traffic, which had been suspended for approximately six hours, resumed later on Monday morning.
Uncertainty Surrounding Responsibility for the Attack on the Kerch Bridge
The responsibility for the attack on the Kerch Bridge remains uncertain, with conflicting accounts and allegations. Russian officials have attributed the attack to Ukraine, although Kyiv has not openly admitted to it.
Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian military’s Southern Command, suggested that the explosions could have been a Russian provocation.
However, according to reports from RBC Ukraine and Ukrainska Pravda, two Ukrainian news outlets, the attack was purportedly planned in collaboration between the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the Ukrainian navy, employing sea drones.
An indication of Ukraine’s potential involvement came from Artem Degtyarenko, the spokesperson for the SBU, who indirectly acknowledged their role by stating that details of the incident would be disclosed once Ukraine achieves victory in the ongoing conflict.
The Significance of the Kerch Bridge in Supplying Crimea and Supporting Russian Forces
The significance of the bridge lies in its vital role in ensuring the supply of essential resources, including fuel, food, and various goods to Crimea.
This region holds particular importance due to its historical association with Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, with the port of Sevastopol serving as its home base.
According to Yelena Elekchyan, the acting Minister of Industrial Politics, Crimea possesses sufficient reserves of fuel, food, and manufactured goods.
However, the bridge has also gained significance as a crucial supply route for Russian forces following their invasion of Ukraine last year.
These forces, originating from Crimea, advanced into the southern part of Ukraine’s Kherson region and parts of the neighboring Zaporizhia province.
Was the Attack on the Kerch Bridge the First Incident of its Kind?
No, this was not the first attack on the bridge. In October of the previous year, the bridge suffered significant damage from a powerful explosion.
Russian officials attributed the blast to a truck that detonated while crossing the bridge, resulting in the loss of three lives.
Russian President Vladimir Putin characterized the incident as a “terrorist attack” orchestrated by Ukrainian security services. In response, he ordered a series of retaliatory strikes on Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Kyiv.
Several months later, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine indirectly indicated that his country was responsible for the attack. During a statement, he included the bridge among the achievements of the Ukrainian army in 2022.
The Significance and Construction of the Kerch Strait Bridge: Connecting Russia to Crimea
The bridge spanning the Kerch Strait, stretching 19km (12 miles), serves as the sole direct connection between Russia’s transportation network and the Crimean Peninsula.
In 2014, Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine, solidifying its control over the region.
The construction of the bridge held significant importance to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who personally inaugurated it in 2018 with great pomp and ceremony, symbolizing its status as a flagship project.
Putin even drove a truck across the bridge during the opening.
Comprising of separate road and railway sections, the bridge is supported by concrete stilts. As ships traverse between the Black Sea and the smaller Azov Sea, the structure transitions into a wider span held up by steel arches.
The construction of the bridge reportedly incurred a cost of $3.6 billion and was undertaken by a company owned by Arkady Rotenberg, a close ally and former judo partner of Putin.
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