Home Europe Bridge connecting Russia with Crimea hit by large explosion

Bridge connecting Russia with Crimea hit by large explosion

A section of the Crimean bridge collapsed completely following the explosion on Saturday, October 8, 2022

A key bridge connecting Russia with Crimea has been hit by a large explosion that has collapsed a portion of the road section and left the freight section ablaze.

Reports on the source of the explosion are conflicting, with Russian state news agency RIA Novosti pointing to a fuel tanker fire as the source. Other reports are saying Ukrainian special forces could be behind the attack, which is poised to complicate Russia’s logistics efforts as Ukraine continues to free more of the territory occupied by Russia since the start of invasion on February 24.

What is certain is that the bridge, which Russia built at a significant expense after seizing Crimea in 2014, was always a priority target for Ukraine. However, it lacked the capability to hit it with precision weapons from greater distances. It is worth noting that the Pentagon said in the past that the bridge would be a viable target for Ukraine. Whether Ukraine received more capable weapons from the United States, or it found other ways to come within range of the bridge is still unclear.

Oleg Kryuchkov, a Russian official in Crimea told RIA Novosti that the bridge’s support arches are reportedly undamaged, adding that the Crimean peninsula had stores of food and fuel in case traffic over the bridge comes to a halt. Judging by the footage of the Crimean bridge that is emerging, the suspension of traffic is inevitable.

Ever since the start of invasion, Russia has been trying to protect the 19km long bridge that opened for traffic in 2018. While it believed the bridge was beyond Ukraine’s range, Russia recently began deploying air defenses and decoy barges as a way of protecting against potential attacks.

UK defense ministry graphic of the estimated situation in Ukraine as of October 7, 2022.

The bridge collapse is the latest setback for Russia and its invasion in Ukraine. It comes on the heels of several weeks of Ukrainian advances that have forced Russian troops to repeatedly retreat in eastern and southern Ukraine.

In its most recent intelligence report, the UK defense ministry said re-purposed captured Russian equipment now makes up a large proportion of Ukraine’s military hardware. According to the defense ministry, Ukraine has likely captured at least 440 Russian main battle tanks, and around 650 other armored vehicles since the invasion. Over half of Ukraine’s currently fielded tank fleet potentially consists of captured vehicles.

More recent footage of the Crimean bridge shows at least two separate portions of the road section have collapsed, while the fire on the freight section appears to have either been brought under control or burned out.