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Flame and smoke rise from the Crimean Bridge connecting the Russian mainland and Crimean peninsula. AP/PA Images

Three killed as truck bombing damages Russian bridge to Crimea

The crossing was built by Russia after it seized and annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

LAST UPDATE | 8 Oct 2022

AN EXPLOSION HAS caused the partial collapse of a bridge linking Russia to the Crimean peninsula, damaging a key supply artery for the Kremlin’s faltering war effort in southern Ukraine.

Russian authorities said a truck bomb caused the blast and that three people were killed.

The speaker of Crimea’s Kremlin-backed regional parliament accused Ukraine of being behind the explosion, though Moscow did not apportion blame.

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly threatened to strike the bridge and some lauded the destruction, but Kyiv stopped short of claiming responsibility.

The bombing came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin turned 70, dealing him a humiliating blow that could lead him to up the ante in his war on Ukraine.

In another potential setback for Putin, a Kremlin-backed official in Kherson, one of four Russia-annexed regions in Ukraine, announced a partial evacuation of civilians.

Kirill Stremousov, deputy chief of Kherson’s Russian-appointed administration, told Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti agency that young children and their parents, as well as older people, could be relocated to two southern Russian regions.

Russian legislators urged Putin to declare a “counterterrorism operation” in response.

Such a move could be used by the Kremlin to further broaden the powers of security agencies, ban rallies, tighten censorship, introduce restrictions on travel and expand a partial mobilisation that the president ordered last month.

Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said a truck bomb set alight seven railway carriages carrying fuel, resulting in a “partial collapse of two sections of the bridge”.

A man and a woman who were riding in a vehicle across the bridge were killed by the explosion and their bodies were recovered, Russia’s Investigative Committee said. It did not provide details on the third victim or the truck driver.

The blast occurred even though all vehicles driving across the bridge undergo automatic checks for explosives by state-of-the-art control systems, drawing a stream of critical comments from Russian war bloggers.

The truck was owned by a resident of the Krasnodar region in southern Russia, Russia’s Investigative Committee said. It said investigators arrived at his home as part of the inquiry and are looking at the truck’s route and other details.

The 20km bridge across the Kerch Strait linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov opened in 2018 and is the longest in Europe.

The project is a tangible symbol of Moscow’s claims on Crimea and has provided an essential link to the peninsula, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Crimea holds symbolic value for Russia and is key to sustaining its military operations in southern Ukraine.

While Russia seized areas north of Crimea early on during the invasion and built a land corridor to it along the Sea of Azov, Ukraine is pressing a counteroffensive to reclaim them.

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