The Kerch Bridge is considered to be an important logistics supply route for Putin’s forces.
The Russian authorities offer two versions of the incident that took place this Saturday morning on the Kerch bridge, which connects mainland Russia with the Crimean peninsula: the explosion of a truck bomb and the fire of several fuel tankers from a Freight train running on the bridge track. The truth is that, according to the images taken by the drivers who had to turn around after the traffic was cut off, one of the two directions of the road for cars has fallen into the sea and, a few meters away, another section of the same lane has collapsed. Investigators announced the death of three people. “The bodies of two victims, a man and a woman, have already been removed from the water,” the Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement, without giving details about the third victim.
The bridge, also known simply as the Crimean Bridge, is considered to be an important logistics supply route for Russian forces in Crimea and southern Russian-occupied Ukraine. The structure, 19 kilometers long, includes a rail transport route and a motorway. Inaugurated by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in 2018, it is one of the most important infrastructure works on the peninsula since its incorporation into Russia in 2014.
The fire on the railway apparently started in one tanker and later spread to other contiguous ones, seriously damaging the railway infrastructure. The incident occurred after six in the morning and has caused the total cut of vehicle and railway traffic. While in Moscow it is clarified whether it was a fortuitous accident or an “act of sabotage”, the adviser to the Ukrainian Presidency, Mikhailo Podoliak, wrote on Twitter: “Crimea, the bridge, is the beginning. Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled.
The National Antiterrorist Committee (NAK in its acronym in Russian) stated that “a truck exploded” on the bridge, as a result of which seven tankers of a freight train caught fire. For its part, the Russian Instruction Committee (SK in its Russian acronym) announced the initiation of a criminal case for the blowing up of the aforementioned truck. At first it was reported that the explosions caused no casualties, although it has since been claimed that there are three dead. President Vladimir Putin, who celebrated his 70th birthday yesterday, has ordered an investigation.
The Crimean authorities believe that Ukraine is behind what happened. The president of the Crimean Parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, has blamed “Ukrainian hooligans.” However, except for the words spoken on Twitter by Podoliak, no one in kyiv has claimed responsibility for the attack, nor has the Ukrainian Army. Konstantinov has promised that the bridge will be repaired soon.
But the governor of the peninsula, Sergei Axiónov, has been more cautious and has warned that, before advancing dates, it will be necessary to “assess the damage”. Axiónov, for the moment, has already ordered the resumption of the ferry service to connect Crimea with Russia through the Kerch Strait.
From kyiv there have been repeated threats to attack the Kerch bridge. In August, Podoliak stated that this infrastructure “is a legitimate military objective, since it constitutes the main supply route for the Russian Army” in Crimea and, from the peninsula, to the Ukrainian region of Kherson. Ukrainian General Dmitro Marchenko had earlier warned that the bridge would become “the number one target for destruction as soon as the technical opportunity to attack arises.” This bridge, which connects Crimea and Russia’s Krasnodar region, began construction shortly after the peninsula’s annexation in March 2014, and was opened to car traffic in May 2018. The railway line entered service in December 2019.