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08th Oct 2022

Massive explosion destroys only bridge linking Crimea to Russia

Charlie Herbert

Massive explosion destroys only bridge linking Russia to Crimea

The blast has been hailed as a ‘beginning’ by one senior Ukrainian figure

The only bridge linking Russia to the occupied Crimean peninsula has been severely damaged and engulfed in flames following a massive lorry explosion.

Russian officials say the blast on the road section of the Kerch bridge led to oil tankers on the rail section catching fire, before the road collapsed.

Crimea was annexed in 2014 by Russia, which now uses the bridge to move military equipment into Ukraine.

The bridge, which was opened by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018, links the Russian-occupied Ukrainian peninsula Crimea with mainland Russia via the Kerch Strait.

At 12 miles, it is the longest bridge in Europe and is seen as a symbol of the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 as a way of the Kremlin showing that Russia and Crimea are joined forever.

Footage shared on Twitter shows flames engulfing the bridge, with some parts having collapsed into the water.

One of President Zelensky advisers, Mykhailo Podolyak, called the damage a “beginning” – but did not directly claim Ukrainian responsibility.

“Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled,” he tweeted.

Kerch bridge is thought to be a key target for Ukrainian forces in their attacks on Russian logistical chains.

Meanwhile the official Twitter account of the Ukraine government responded to the fire by simply tweeting: “Sick burn.”

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NAC) said: “At 06:07 Moscow time today [03:07 GMT], an explosion was set off at a cargo vehicle on the motorway part of the Crimean bridge on the side of the Taman peninsula, which set fire to seven fuel tanks of a train that was en route to the Crimean peninsula.

“Two motorway sections of the bridge partially collapsed.”

The BBC reports that Crimean parliamentary speaker Vladimir Kontantinov blamed the explosion on “Ukrainian vandals, who have finally managed to reach their bloody hands to the Crimean bridge”.

He added the damage to the bridge would be “promptly restored, since it is not of a serious nature”.

Putin has been informed about the “emergency” on the bridge and has ordered a government inquiry.

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