On Saturday morning, there was an explosion from a fuel tanker on the Crimea bridge. Russian investigators said three people were killed in the incident. BBC news.
After the explosion, Russia said the accident was caused by a tanker and that traffic would be closed due to road damage. It will reopen in the evening.
The bridge was a symbol of the annexation of the occupied Crimea island to Russia in 2014. Russian President Vladimir Putin inaugurated the bridge in 2018.
After the blast, Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said the damage to Russia from the blast was just the beginning. However, he did not say anything about Ukraine being directly responsible for the explosion.
“Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be eliminated,” Podoliak said on Twitter.
The Ukrainian government’s official Twitter account responded to the fire by tweeting, ‘Explosion fire.’
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry compared the bridge explosion to the sinking of the Russian missile cruiser Moskva in April. In a tweet, the ministry said, ‘Two infamous symbols of Russian power have disappeared in Ukrainian Crimea. What happens next?’
The bridge was used by Moscow to transport military equipment, ammunition and personnel from Russia to the battlefield in southern Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities said it was a legitimate goal, as they pledged to retake the peninsula.
Any attack on Crimea, which has a large Russian military presence, would be seen as an affront to the Kremlin.
Ukrainians especially hate the bridge. Ukrainians were seen cheering after pictures and videos of the bridge on fire went viral on social media. The incident happened just a day after Putin’s 70th birthday.
Local authorities in Crimea have said they will launch a ferry service between the Russian mainland and the peninsula as road and rail traffic over the bridge is closed.
Crimean parliamentary speaker Vladimir Konstantinov blamed the explosion on Ukrainian vandals. He said the damage to the bridge ‘will be quickly repaired, because nothing serious has happened to it.’
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying President Putin had been informed of the bridge’s “emergency situation” and had ordered an official investigation.
The construction of this 19 km bridge cost 2.7 billion dollars. President Putin inaugurated the bridge four years after annexing Crimea. It is the longest bridge in Europe. Russian media also hailed it as the ‘construction of the century’. Russian officials previously claimed it was protected from air, land or water threats.
The bridge crossing is more than 100 miles from Ukrainian-controlled territory. An explosives expert told the BBC it was unlikely the fire was caused by a missile. The lack of obvious blast or fragmentation damage to the road surface indicates that no air-delivered weapon was used in the incident.
He also said it could also be due to a well-planned attack from below.