UKRAINE: KYIV The only bridge connecting the occupied Crimean Peninsula to Russia was destroyed in two sections by a fireball on Saturday, interrupting the most crucial supply route for Russian troops fighting in southern Ukraine and dealing a humiliating blow to the Kremlin, which is suffering ongoing battlefield defeats and mounting domestic criticism.
According to Russian police, the explosion and fire killed at least three people and caused a portion of the 12-mile Kerch Strait Bridge to fall into the water. Senior Ukrainian officials confirmed Russian accusations that their country was responsible for the strike. Due to a government restriction on discussing the incident, the official spoke on the condition of anonymity. He claimed that Ukraine’s intelligence services had planned the explosion and used a device carried aboard a truck that was being driven across the bridge.
The explosion was a very personal affront for Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, who oversaw the bridge’s inauguration in 2018, and it highlighted his inability to control a constant stream of Ukrainian attacks.
The explosion serves as a metaphor for a Russian military in chaos. Despite the bridge’s importance to the war effort, its significance to Mr. Putin personally, and its profound symbolism as a physical link between Russia and Crimea, Russian soldiers were unable to defend it.
The Kremlin named Gen. Sergei Surovikin, yet another new commander, to lead Russian soldiers in Ukraine hours after the blast. Previous leadership reorganizations have not significantly improved the military’s poor performance.
t wasn’t immediately obvious how extensive the damage was. The bridge features areas for both rail and car traffic. According to the Russian state news service Tass, the railroad portion of the bridge had been repaired by Saturday night, and a train with 15 cars had successfully across the crossing. According to a statement on Telegram by Sergei Aksyonov, the leader of Crimea, car traffic has already started to restart on the bridge’s undamaged side.
Even nevertheless, politicians, military bloggers, and Russian officials were immediately pushing for retaliation, with one of them claiming that anything less than a “very strong” reaction would be insufficient.
Any significant obstruction to traffic on the bridge might have a significant impact on Russia’s capacity to carry out an operation against Ukrainian forces in southern Ukraine. The bridge serves as the main supply route for the military connecting Russia to the Crimean Peninsula. The capacity of the Russian military to provide gasoline, equipment, and ammunition to Russian soldiers fighting in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions—two of the four Ukrainian provinces that Mr. Putin said Russia had seized on September 30—will be severely constrained without it, observers said.