The bridge linking Crimea to the Russian mainland which had been damaged in an explosion has reopened to car traffic, the Russian-installed head of the peninsula said on Saturday.
“Road traffic has begun on the Crimea bridge,” Sergei Aksyonov, the Moscow-backed leader of Crimea, said on Telegram. He added that there are “full inspection procedures” for buses and cars using the bridge.
Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said that a truck coming from the side of the Taman Peninsula was blown up at 6:07 AM Moscow time which resulted in the collapse of two automobile spans of the bridge and also set on fire seven fuel tanks of a train going in the direction of the Crimean Peninsula.
The arch over the navigable part of the bridge was not damaged as measures are being taken to establish the circumstances of the explosion and eliminate its consequences, the Russian counter-terrorism authority revealed in a statement.
Dramatic footage and images of the burning train have gone viral on social media with the Crimean authorities stating that they will be able to assess the extent of damage to the bridge and supports only after the fire is extinguished fully.
The Kerch Strait Bridge, connecting Russia with Russian-occupied Crimea has been destroyed. pic.twitter.com/0smg5N5Eww
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) October 8, 2022
“I want to assure the Crimeans that the Republic of Crimea is fully provided with fuel and food. We have more than a month’s worth of fuel, and more than two months’ worth of food. There are no risks in this part, as well as reasons for excitement.
We in Crimea experienced more difficult times,” Crimea’s head Sergei Aksyonov wrote on Telegram.
Late Saturday, Aksenov updated further on social media that movement of vehicles on the undamaged automobile part of the Crimean Bridge has begun and is currently open only to cars and buses with a full inspection procedure.
The truck drivers, he wrote, will be using the Kerch ferry crossing to sail across the strait. He added that the authroities are working hard to launch railway traffic on the bridge very soon.
It was in May 2018 that Russian President Vladimir Putin inaugurated the Crimean Bridge motorway section and drove the lead vehicle of the construction equipment convoy.
In December 2019, Putin rode along in the train driver’s cabin to throw open the railway traffic on the bridge, emphasising the historical connect between the two regions by mentioning in his speech that the first train from Saint Petersburg to Sevastopol was launched 145 years ago.
Starting on the Taman Peninsula, the 19 km bridge is the longest in Russia and Europe, running along a 5 km long dam and Tuzla Island, crossing the Kerch Strait, and ending on the Crimean coast.
The Crimean Bridge has been hit, either by a missile or a sabotage attack. Strikes at the heart of Vladimir Putin’s prestige. He went to war to take Kyiv only to find that he can’t even protect Crimea. He’ll be looking for some way to respond. pic.twitter.com/3j9kvksp5O
— Andrew Roth (@Andrew__Roth) October 8, 2022
The construction of the strategically important bridge not only ensured uninterrupted traffic between Crimea and other Russian regions but also helped Moscow strengthen its hold over the territory which has been under its control since 2014.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Defence Ministry on Saturday compared the Kerch Bridge incident with the downing of Moskva, the flagship of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet.
The guided missile cruiser Moskva and the Kerch Bridge – two notorious symbols of russian power in Ukrainian Crimea – have gone down.
What’s next in line, russkies?
— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) October 8, 2022
“Crimea, the bridge, the beginning. Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled,” tweeted Mykhailo Podolyak, Adviser to the Head of the Office of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova was also quick to respond to the statements being made from Kyiv.
“The reaction of the Kyiv regime to the destruction of civilian infrastructure testifies to its terrorist nature,” Zakharova wrote on her Telegram channel.
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