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One of Putin’s most prestigious projects, the road linking Russia and the annexed Crimea, has partially collapsed. Many described the explosion as a complex Ukrainian sabotage operation deep in Russian-controlled territory.
Russian authorities reported that the bridge Partially reopened Limited car and train traffic after the blast, according to Reuters.
Now President Vladimir Putin has ordered the FSB to take over security control at the Crimean Bridge after the violent explosion on Saturday.
In a decree issued on Saturday evening, Putin wrote that the FSB “is empowered to organize and coordinate protective measures for the transport route through the Kerch Strait.”
At the moment, traffic only passes over some parts of the bridge.
– This must be a well-planned sabotage operation that is able to destroy both railways and roads. Here, the explosive charges must be placed on the support beams in several places. The Ukrainian special forces are most likely behind, Lieutenant-Colonel Pale Yedestibo, the Norwegian Military Academy’s expert on land warfare, tells VG.
Another theory, which The Russian authorities are now strengtheningis that a truck full of explosives caused the explosion.
– According to preliminary information, this morning a truck exploded in the car part of the Crimean embankment from the Taman side, igniting seven fuel tanks of a freight train heading towards the Crimea. As a result, two extended cars partially collapsed, Svetlana Petrenko of the Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement.
Newspaper Ukrainian Pravda Unidentified sources also cited that the Ukrainian security forces were behind the operation. The Ukrainian authorities did not confirm this.
Ydstebø says this is a very big event in the Ukraine war on several levels.
– First, they managed to cut off such a vital supply line, but this also has a great informational dimension. He says this action sends strong signals to both Russia and the outside world about what Ukrainian forces can achieve.
One of the most important moments of the war
Around 06 local time Ukrainian media reported a massive explosion on the bridge. The Russian Investigative Committee said three people had died, according to Reuters.
Photos and videos from users on social media initially show a huge explosion, then a large fire and a thick cloud of smoke rising from the bridge, and parts of the bridge collapsed and fell into the water.
RIA quoted Russian authorities as saying that two of the lanes on the bridge had been destroyed. At about 11:00 in the afternoon they reported that the fire was extinguished.
NUPI researcher Indra Overland wrote on Twitter that the bridges between Crimea and Russia have “great symbolic, psychological, economic and military strategic importance”.
He notes that the bridges cost 228 billion rubles, and are seen as safe and efficient ways of transporting military goods and materials to the Crimea and the Kherson Front in southern Ukraine.
Overland wrote: – The attack on the Kerch bridge is one of the most important moments in Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Lieutenant Colonel Bali Yedestbo says the accident will be a demand of the Russian regime.
– This is an event that will become known in Russia by all channels, and the system cannot explain it. This is a birthday present from Ukraine to Putin, Ydstebø tells VG.
The Russian president turned 70 on Friday.
Below you can see where the bridge is:
The Crimean Bridge, also known as the Kerch Bridge, was constructed by Russia after illegally annexing the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014. It was ready in 2018, and with a length of 19 kilometers, it is also the longest in Europe.
It is used, among other things, for the transportation of military equipment for the Russian forces in Ukraine.
A month after Russian soldiers entered Crimea in 2014, a controversial “referendum” was held, in which the residents of the region, according to Russia, voted in favor of secession from Ukraine. Subsequently, Russia annexed the area. The same thing happened recently With four other regions in eastern Ukraine.
Several explosions have also been reported at a Russian air base on the peninsula in the past two months. Several of them indicated that it might be due to vandalism, though Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Blame it on the “Ukrainian saboteurs”
The head of the Russian parliament in Crimea, Vladimir Andreyevich Konstantinov, is clear on Telegram about who he thinks is behind the attack:
– Ukrainian saboteurs still managed to reach the Crimean bridge with their bloody hands, he writes.
– This is the essence of the Kyiv system and the Ukrainian state. He adds that death and destruction is the only thing they can do.
Russian state-owned news agency palm He writes that Vladimir Putin requested the formation of a government commission to find out who was behind the incident.
The Ukrainian authorities have not claimed responsibility for the explosion, but Mikhailo Podolak, an adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky, wrote the following: Twitter:
– Crimea, the bridge, the beginning. Everything that is illegal must be destroyed.
One of Putin’s party colleagues, Andrei Gorolev of the United Russia party, demanded revenge:
– We must give a solid answer to this, he writes on Telegram.
– There is no reason to rush. Our commander in chief knows how to make strong, balanced decisions, and I’m sure that when the time comes, the politician writes.
– This is very symbolic, says Arv Hansen, who is now on the Helsinki Committee and was a former researcher.
He notes that the Crimean Bridge was a prestigious project of Vladimir Putin:
– Russia has spent billions on this project, in part because the geological conditions were difficult, he tells VG.
– The bridge is important for supplies to Crimea, for most people and because the army can transport its supplies in this way. Crimea has no land connection with the rest of Russia, which is why the bridge is so important.
– Do you think it sabotage?
– Of course, we cannot be 100% sure, but the Ukrainians – including President Volodymyr Zelensky – have long spoken about the goal of demolishing the bridge. So, there is jubilation now in social media from the Ukrainian side.
– Russia began planning this bridge immediately after its annexation in 2014, so the first part can be ready already in 2018.
Hansen asserts that Russia also put pressure on Ukraine economically by the fact that Ukrainian boats had to wait for a long time to cross the Kerch Strait, which caused the destruction and delay of goods, which affected the Ukrainian economy.
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