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Flames and smoke rise from the Crimean Bridge connecting the Russian mainland and the Crimean peninsula over the Kerch Strait AP
War in Ukraine

Russia says eight suspects detained over Crimea bridge blasts

The suspects include five Russians along with three Ukrainian and Armenian citizens, according to Russian intelligence services.

RUSSIA HAS DETAINED eight suspects over the deadly explosion on the bridge linking annexed Crimea to Russia, the FSB security service has said in a statement.

The suspects include five Russians and “three Ukrainian and Armenian citizens,” it added, without providing more details on last week’s blast.

“The explosives were hidden in 22 plastic film rolls weighing 22,770 kilograms (50,200 pounds),” the statement said.

The rolls left on a boat in August from the Ukrainian port of Odessa to Bulgaria. They then transited through the port of Poti in Georgia, then sent overland to Armenia before arriving by road in Russia, according to the FSB.

featureimage A medical worker runs past a burning car after a Russian attack in Kyiv, Ukraine (Roman Hrytsyna/AP)

It claimed that the explosives entered Russia on October 4 in a truck with Georgian license plates and reached the region of Krasnodar on October 6, two days before the blasts.

The “terrorist attack” was organised by Ukrainian secret services, with a Kyiv agent having coordinated the transit of the explosives, the FSB continued.

On Saturday, a blast ripped through the road and rail bridge connecting Crimea to Russia, killing three people, causing damage and igniting a massive fire.

The bridge is logistically crucial for Moscow — a vital transport link for moving military equipment to Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine.

embedded269222151 A Russian warship launches a cruise missile at a target in Ukraine (Russian Defence Ministry Press Service via AP)

It is also hugely symbolic, with President Vladimir Putin having personally inaugurated the structure in 2018.

The blast sparked celebrations from Ukrainians. Russia blamed the explosion on Kyiv on Sunday and on Monday launched missile attacks across Ukraine, killing at least 19 people and wounding more than 100. 

‘Air shield’

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky called yesterday for wealthy Western nations to help Kyiv create an “air shield” after a rash of deadly Russian aerial attacks.

Zelensky, who told the G7 club of rich nations “millions of people would be grateful” for help fending off attacks from the sky, warned Russia “still has room for further escalation” after Monday’s bloody missile salvoes across Ukraine.

Following the attacks, Washington pledged to up shipments of air defences to Ukraine, while Germany promised delivery “in the coming days” of the first Iris-T missile shield reportedly capable of protecting a city.

In a week of marked escalation in the war, G7 leaders said that Belarus’s plan to deploy joint forces with Russia constituted a new instance of “complicity” with Moscow, warning Minsk to “stop enabling” Russia’s invasion.

Following talks with Zelensky, G7 leaders said they would hold Russian President Vladimir Putin to account for the attacks but did not say how.

Before the G7 meeting, the Kremlin had already said it expected “confrontation” with the West to continue.

Russia followed up the missile launches at the start of the week with further aerial attacks on Tuesday.

Officials in Ukraine’s western region of Lviv said at least three Russian missiles fired Tuesday targeted energy infrastructure, forcing Kyiv to ask people to cut their electricity usage and switch off appliances at night.

Russia’s defence ministry confirmed Tuesday’s renewed attacks, saying it had carried out massive strikes using long-range and high-precision weapons and that “all assigned targets were hit”.

‘Just peace’

Ukraine’s allies have been united in their public pledges of unwavering support for Kyiv in the wake of the strikes.

US President Joe Biden told CNN on Tuesday Putin had “miscalculated significantly” Russia’s ability to occupy Ukraine.

He also left open the possibility of talks with Putin on the sidelines of a November meeting of G20 nations — although he was clear there were no plans for talks on Ukraine.

“Look, I have no intention of meeting with him,” Biden said.

But, he added: “If he came to me at the G20 and said ‘I want to talk about the release of (jailed basketball star Brittney) Griner’, I’d meet with him. I mean, it would depend.”

Meanwhile, Turkey called yesterday for a viable ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine “as soon as possible”, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expected to meet Putin in Kazakhstan this week.

Speaking in a televised interview, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also called for a “just peace” based on Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Turkey has earned plaudits for brokering deals between the sides, including a grain deal and prisoner swaps.

Another recent prisoner swap saw 32 Ukrainian soldiers freed and the body of an Israeli citizen recovered, the Ukrainian presidency said on Tuesday.

Ukrainian officials also announced the recovery of the remains of dozens of civilians found in mass graves in two towns in the eastern Donetsk region recently recaptured from Moscow’s forces.

Worsening weather is adding to the misery of residents in frontline communities in the region that have been under shellfire and without power or water for months, with basic goods and firewood scarce.

“We can’t do anything. And these explosions, we can’t stand them. When will it be over?” said Oleksandra Pylypenko, 67, who remains in the frontline town of Bakhmut.

Fighting around the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine for months has raised fears of a nuclear accident.

On Tuesday, Putin told the head of the UN’s nuclear energy watchdog Rafael Grossi that he was “open to dialogue” on the future of the facility.

Ukraine’s state nuclear energy agency on Tuesday accused Russian forces of detaining and mistreating another senior official at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

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