Footage reportedly of the explosion that hit the Crimean Bridge
The damage to the Crimean Bridge will prevent mobilized Russians from moving from Russian territory through Crimea to the Zaporizhia and Kherson regions, Ukrainian military expert Oleksandr Musiyenko said, according to Unian.
“About 75 percent of Russian troops reach the occupied territories of southern Ukraine via occupied Crimea and especially across the Kerch Bridge. (…) This incident will make the transfer impossible,” Musiyenko said.
Ryan estimated that the explosion on the bridge may be the work of the Ukrainians in an effort to regain control of Crimea. “Or it could be a deceptive operation to divert attention from other areas,” he added.
Road traffic on the bridge crucial for supplying the Russian southern front was partially restored after several hours of interruption, and in the early evening the resumption of railway operation was announced.
However, foreign experts assume that due to the damage to the structure, the resumption of operation will have a significantly limited scope.
Hours after the explosion, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree ordering tighter security for the bridge and the infrastructure that supplies electricity and natural gas to the Crimean peninsula.
It is up to the Russian counterintelligence (FSB) to take care of this, not the military. The Kremlin chief also ordered the creation of a commission of inquiry to clarify the incident.
The first reports of a fire and explosion on the bridge, which is a symbol of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, appeared around 06:00 Moscow time (05:00 CEST).
According to local authorities, after the explosion, the flames engulfed tankers on the freight train, the information was subsequently confirmed by the Crimean Railway Administration.
“The bridge arches are not damaged. It is too early to talk about causes and consequences.
The fire is continuing,” Oleg Kryuchkov, an adviser to the head of the annexed peninsula’s administration, wrote shortly after the incident.
The flames were fully extinguished at 10:00 Moscow time (09:00 CEST), the Russian Ministry of Emergencies said, according to Interfax news agency.
Russia’s counterterrorism committee said a truck exploded on a 19-kilometer-long bridge, which led to the ignition of several tankers of the trainset.
Security camera footage showed a large explosion on the road part of the bridge and a massive fire on the parallel railway section.
According to AFP, the source of the explosion appears to have been a white truck that was still driving along the bridge along several other vehicles in the dark.
“According to preliminary data, three people died in the incident. These were probably passengers in a car driving next to a truck that exploded.
The bodies of two men and one woman were recovered from the water, they identify themselves,” investigators said, according to TASS.
The head of the Russian administration of the Crimea peninsula, Sergei Aksyonov, confirmed on the social network telegram that due to the incident “collapsed two lanes” of the road in the direction from Krasnodar to Kerch.
The road in the opposite direction, leading from the annexed peninsula to Russia, did not appear to be damaged, he said.
Car traffic was restored to the bridge in the afternoon; passenger vehicles and buses can enter the undamaged part of the bridge after they are inspected, Aksyonov said.
Trucks must use ferries to cross the Kerch Strait. In the early evening, Grand Service Express announced the resumption of rail transport.
According to AFP, the company said that two trains from Crimea to Moscow and St. Petersburg had already set off.
In the comments of foreign experts, there is speculation that due to the extent of the damage, it will be difficult to return the operation to an earlier level soon.
They assume that rail transport, in particular, will have to limit the speed and weight of individual trains until the bridge structure is thoroughly inspected and repaired.
This may pose a problem for supplying Russian troops not only in Crimea.
However, Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Russian-installed Kherson Oblast Administration, says the explosion will not significantly affect the Russian military’s supply.
“But there will be logistical problems for Crimea,” he admitted.
According to Aksyonov, Crimea has fuel reserves for more than a month and food reserves for more than two months.
It’s too early to determine the cause of the fire and its aftermath, military expert Mick Ryan tweeted.
In his opinion, a large number of explosives are needed to collapse the concrete roadway.
“If they were aimed at the right places on the bridge, several trucks or missiles/bombs would be needed,” Ryan wrote.
Russia annexed Crimea to its territory in 2014. Ukraine and most countries in the world do not recognize this annexation. The bridge leading from Russia across the Kerch Strait to Crimea was inaugurated in May 2018.
Russia has been at war with Ukraine since February. It is not yet clear who is responsible for today’s explosion, Moscow and Kiev have not officially commented. However, the Ukrainians did not leave the damage to the bridge unnoticed.
“The cruiser Moscow and now the Kerch Bridge – two well-known symbols of Russian power in Ukraine’s Crimea – are destroyed.
What’s next, Russians?” the Ukrainian Defense Ministry tweeted, referring to the Russian cruiser, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, which sank after a Ukrainian attack in April.
“Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be returned,” Mykhailo Podoljak, an adviser to Ukraine’s presidential chief, tweeted, adding a photo of the collapsed road.
Podolyak’s statement is interpreted in some comments as a signal that further attacks on Russian objects are imminent.
“The Kiev regime’s response to the damage to civilian infrastructure shows its terrorist nature,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mariya Zakharova said, according to Russian media.
Since the end of the summer, Ukrainian forces have launched a counteroffensive in the south and northeast of the country, managing to retake a large part of the territory of Kharkiv and parts of the Luhansk, Donetsk and Kherson regions.
Another target of the counterattack, according to security experts, is likely Donetsk and Mariupol, where the Ukrainians will try to cut off the Russian land link with the peninsula illegally annexed in 2014.