On Saturday, an explosion partially brought down a bridge that connects the Crimean Peninsula with Russia, destroying a vital supply route for the Kremlin’s sputtering military effort in southern Ukraine. According to Russian authorities, the explosion was triggered by a truck bomb, and three people died.
Although the Kremlin did not assign responsibility, the speaker of Crimea’s regional parliament, which is supported by the Kremlin, instantly condemned Ukraine. While others applauded the attack and Ukrainian officials repeatedly threatened to destroy the bridge, Kyiv refrained from taking credit.
Putin was dealt a humiliating blow by the bombing, which occurred the day after he turned 70 and may have caused him to escalate his campaign against Ukraine. After the explosion, the Russian Defense Ministry declared that Gen. Sergei Surovikin, the head of the air force, would be in charge of all Russian forces engaged in the conflict in Ukraine.
With this declaration, a single commander was officially named for the whole Russian military in Ukraine for the first time. The military declared during the summer that Surovikin had been given command of the Russian forces in southern Ukraine.
A Kremlin-backed official in Kherson, one of the four districts of Ukraine that Russia has annexed, announced a partial evacuation of inhabitants, perhaps dealing another blow to Putin.
Young children and their parents, as well as senior people, may be transported to two southern Russian districts, according to Kirill Stremousov, deputy chief of Kherson’s Russian-appointed government, who spoke to the state-run RIA Novosti news agency.
- China lashes out at latest U.S. export controls on chips
- Bachelor’s Clayton Echard Reveals He’s ‘Not Looking to Date
- Will BTS members have to fulfill military duties?
In response to the bridge explosion, Russian MPs demanded that Putin announce a “counterterrorism operation.” The Kremlin may use such a measure to increase the authority of security services, outlaw gatherings, enforce censorship, impose travel restrictions, and broaden the partial mobilization that Putin ordered last month.
The truck bomb, according to Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee, set seven fuel-carrying railroad carriages on fire, which led to the “partial collapse of two portions of the bridge.”
The explosion killed a man and a woman who were traveling across the bridge in a car, and their remains were found, according to Russia’s Investigative Committee. It didn’t go into detail on the third victim or the truck driver’s fate.
Modern control systems automatically examine every vehicle that crosses it for explosives, yet the explosion still took place, eliciting a barrage of criticism from Russian military bloggers.
According to the Russian Investigative Committee, a citizen of the southern Russian region of Krasnodar owned the truck that exploded. According to the report, investigators visited his residence as part of the investigation and are examining the truck’s path as well as other information.
The longest bridge in Europe, spanning the 12-mile Kerch Strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, opened for traffic in 2018. The $3.6 billion undertaking serves as a concrete representation of Moscow’s rights to the Crimean Peninsula and has established a vital connection to the peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Russia uses Crimea as a symbol and as a base for its military operations in southern Ukraine. Ukraine is waging a counteroffensive to retake the territories that Russia annexed north of Crimea early in the invasion and established a land corridor to it along the Sea of Azov.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, supplies were being sent to troops in the south via land and sea. The Energy Ministry of Russia stated that there is enough fuel in Crimea for 15 days and that it is looking into ways to restock.
The bridge’s vehicular and train traffic was stopped. The Russian Transport Ministry announced that rail service would resume Saturday night and that vehicle traffic on one of the two still-functioning lines would soon begin. According to the ministry, traffic will flow in two directions at once but only one route for vehicles.
After learning of the explosion, Putin commanded the formation of a government committee to handle the crisis.
The explosion was attributed to Ukraine by the speaker of Crimea’s regional parliament, which is supported by the Kremlin, who also downplayed the extent of the damage and promised that the bridge would be quickly repaired. The head of the lower house’s foreign affairs committee in Russia, Leonid Slutsky, warned that if Ukraine is to blame, “consequences will be inevitable.”
The leader of the supposed opposition Russian Communist Party, Gennady Zyuganov, stated that the “terror incident” should serve as a wake-up call. The Russian Communist Party votes in accordance with Kremlin intentions in parliament.
The special operation needs to be changed into a counterterrorist operation, he said, adding that long overdue actions haven’t been taken yet. According to Sergei Mironov, leader of the Just Russia faction in parliament, Russia should attack vital Ukrainian infrastructure, including as power plants, bridges, and railroads, in retaliation for the explosion on the bridge.
The comments, particularly those from Zyuganov and Slutsky, could signal Putin’s intention to launch a counterterrorism campaign. On Saturday, the legislative leader of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s party refrained from blaming Kyiv, instead appearing to blame Moscow for annexing Crimea.
“Illegal building in Russia is beginning to collapse and catch fire. The explanation is straightforward: if you create something explosive, it will blow sooner or later, according to David Arakhamia, the Servant of the People party’s chairman, in a Telegram post.
The Russian flagship cruiser Moskva was sunk by a Ukrainian strike in late May, and the Ukrainian postal service declared that it would commemorate the blast by issuing stamps.
Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, tweeted two videos: one with Marilyn Monroe singing her well-known “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” on the right, and the other with the Kerch Bridge on fire on the left.
According to Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian foreign ministry in Moscow, “the Kyiv regime’s reaction to the destruction of civilian infrastructure demonstrates its terrorist nature.” Russia’s vulnerability was highlighted in August by a string of explosions at an airbase and armaments stockpile in Crimea.
Local Crimean authorities gave different accounts of what the broken bridge will entail for locals on the peninsula, which is popular year-round with Russian visitors for its sun and sea and is home to Sevastopol, a significant city and a naval station.
At the time of the explosion, according to the Association of Russian Travel Agencies, there were roughly 50,000 tourists vacationing in Crimea.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog said that the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station in Ukraine has lost its final remaining external power supply as a result of additional bombardment and is now reliant on emergency diesel generators.
The explosion on the bridge happened hours after explosives early on Saturday morning in Kharkiv, eastern Ukraine, which sent towering plumes of smoke into the sky and set off a string of subsequent explosions.
Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, was allegedly bombarded by Russian surface-to-air missiles, according to Ukrainian officials, who also claimed at least one person was hurt. Oleh Sinehubov, the regional governor, posted on Telegram that Saltivka and Osnovianskiy, which are primarily residential neighborhoods, were the targets of the attacks.
The wreckage of the destroyed city of Lyman in eastern Ukraine is still being examined by Ukrainian authorities as they determine the humanitarian cost and potential for war crimes caused by a lengthy Russian occupation.
Few structures in the city in the Donetsk region, which Moscow illegally annexed last week in a staged “referendum,” have escaped undamaged, and the majority of homes lack essential amenities. Although the number of fatalities in the city since Russian forces took control of it in May is still unknown, he claimed that Lyman is currently experiencing a “humanitarian crisis” that may yet yield more dreadful revelations.
The Russian organization Memorial, the Ukrainian organization Center for Civil Liberties, and the imprisoned Belarusian rights campaigner Ales Bialiatski will share this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the award’s judges announced on Friday.
The judges intended to recognize “three great advocates of human rights, democracy, and peaceful coexistence in the neighboring countries Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine,” according to Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.