A Ukrainian strike disabled the only road bridge connecting Russia with the occupied Crimean Peninsula, hitting once again a major symbol of President Vladimir Putin’s rule and constricting Russian supplies to the front lines in southern Ukraine.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said it would likely take until mid-September to restore partial two-way cargo traffic on the bridge, and until November to fully rebuild the 12-mile-long structure.
According to Russia’s National Antiterrorism Committee, Kyiv used two naval drones against the bridge, hitting it at around 3 a.m. local time on Monday. Ukrainian media, citing government sources, also said that naval drones were involved.
Artem Degtyarenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s SBU intelligence service, told news agency Interfax Ukraine that all the details of how the attack had been organized would be made public after Ukraine’s victory. “Any illegal structures used to deliver Russian instruments of mass murder are necessarily short-lived,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s adviser.
Coming in the middle of Crimea’s tourism season, Monday’s strikes inflicted yet another blow to Putin’s prestige in addition to creating formidable logistical hurdles for the Russian war effort. Built at a cost of $4 billion after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the bridge has become a major symbol of Putin’s drive to wash away the humiliation he says had been inflicted on Russia by the Soviet Union’s collapse. Putin personally opened it in 2018.
Ukraine already damaged the bridge once, last October, just hours after Putin’s birthday. At the time, only one of the two road parts of the bridge collapsed, and alternating traffic on the second two-lane part resumed hours later. [Continue reading…]