War in Ukraine: Russia launches criminal investigation into bridge explosion in Crimea

Eva Deschamps / October 7, 2022

A fire broke out on the vast automobile and railway bridge linking Russian-annexed Ukrainian Crimea and Russian territory forcing traffic to stop, according to Russian authorities.

 

Russia on Saturday opened a criminal investigation into the explosion that severely damaged the important bridge linking Moscow-annexed Crimea to the mainland, which it said was caused by a vehicle explosion.

 

The Russian Investigative Committee said it had “opened a criminal investigation in connection with the incident on the Crimean bridge.” It said that the explosion took place after “the explosion of a truck”.

 

“Today at 06:07 on the road part of the Crimean bridge (…) took place the explosion of a car bomb, which led to the burning of seven railway tanks that were going to the Crimea,” the committee said, quoted by Russian agencies.

 

Two lanes of road partially collapsed,” said the Anti-Terrorism Committee, while specifying that the arch of the bridge was not affected.

 

The head of the assembly of Crimea, the regional parliament installed by Russia, Vladimir Konstantinov denounced a coup “Ukrainian vandals.

 

If Ukraine is behind the fire and explosion on the Crimean bridge, it would be a slap in the face to Russia that such a crucial infrastructure so far from the front line could be damaged by Ukrainian forces.

 

Russia has suffered a series of military setbacks since the beginning of September, with its troops forced to retreat both in the north-east and in the south of the country, particularly the Kherson region, which borders Crimea and which Putin claims to have annexed.

 

The fire on the vast road and rail bridge linking the Russian-annexed Ukrainian Crimea with Russian territory has forced the shutdown of rail and road traffic.

 

Yet it is essential for transporting people and goods to the peninsula, but also for troops deployed in Ukraine.

 

Inaugurated in 2018, the bridge, which spans the Kerch Strait, has become a symbol of the 2014 annexation.

 

Russia has always claimed that the bridge is safe despite the fighting in Ukraine, but has threatened Kiev with retaliation if Ukrainian forces were to attack this or other infrastructure in Crimea.

 

Several explosions have occurred in recent months on Russian military installations in the peninsula, probably as a result of Ukrainian military operations, such as when the military base of Djankoi was devastated in August by the detonation of an ammunition depot, causing an exodus of tourists from the region.

 

Russia on Saturday blasted the Ukrainian reaction to the explosion that damaged the Crimean bridge, a key and symbolic infrastructure of this peninsula annexed by Moscow, a sign according to her of the “terrorist nature” of Ukraine.

 

“The reaction of the Kiev regime on the damage of a civilian infrastructure demonstrates its terrorist nature,” said the spokeswoman of the Russian diplomacy, Maria Zakharova, quoted by Russian news agencies. Ukrainian officials on Saturday made mocking and ironic comments about the explosion, without claiming responsibility.

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