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Russian divers to inspect damage to blast-hit Crimea bridge key to Russia’s war


KYIV: Russian divers will review the damage caused by a powerful explosion on Sunday Russiaroad and rail bridges to Crimea it was a prestigious symbol of Moscow’s annexation of the peninsula and an important supply route for fighting forces in the south. Ukraine.
Saturday’s explosion on a bridge over the Kerch Strait, which Russia did not immediately blame, prompted messages of joy from Ukrainian officials but did not claim responsibility.
Russian news agencies quoted Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin as saying divers would begin work at 6am (03:00 GMT), with a more detailed survey of the water level expected to be completed. at the end of the day.
The Russian governor of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, told reporters: “The situation is manageable – it is unpleasant but not fatal.” “Emotions were activated, of course, and there was a healthy desire to seek revenge.”
The peninsula has the equivalent of a month’s worth of fuel and more than two months’ worth of food, he said. The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces in southern Ukraine could be “sufficiently supplied” through existing land and sea routes.
Russia took Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and the 19-kilometer (12-mile) Crimean bridge connecting the region to Russia’s transport network was opened by President Vladimir four years later. Putin.
Kyiv demanded that Russian forces leave the Black Sea peninsula, as well as the Ukrainian territory they seized during the invasion that Putin launched in February.
The bridge is a major lifeline for Russian forces that control much of the Kherson region in southern Ukraine and the Russian naval port of Sevastopol, with the governor telling locals, “Calm down. Don’t panic.”
It is not yet clear whether the explosion was a deliberate attack, but damage to such a high-profile structure comes amid Russia’s several defeats on the battlefield, and could cause The Kremlin assured that the conflict would go ahead as planned.
On Saturday, Putin signed a decree to tighten security for the bridge as well as the infrastructure that supplies electricity and natural gas to Crimea and ordered an investigation.
“It is conceivable that the Russians could rebuild it, but they cannot defend it while losing the battle,” said political analyst James Nixey of Britain’s Chatham House.
Russian officials said three people were killed, possibly those in a van traveling near an exploding truck. On the upper deck of the bridge, seven fuel wagons of a 59-car train bound for the peninsula also caught fire.
Limited road traffic resumed about 10 hours after the explosion, and the Russian Ministry of Transport cleared rail traffic to restart.
‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MASTER PRESIDENT’
The Kerch Bridge explosion occurred a day after Putin’s 70th birthday, coinciding with Russia’s third high-level military appointment in a week. It designated Air Force General Sergei Surovikin responsible for the invasion attempt.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy did not mention the explosion in a video speech on Saturday, saying only that the weather in Crimea was cloudy.
“But despite the clouds, Ukrainians know … our future is sunny,” he added. “This is a future without occupiers, throughout our territory, especially in Crimea.”
The head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council posted a video of the bridge on social media along with a video of Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy Birthday, Mr.
Since the war began on February 24, Ukrainian officials have regularly suggested they want to destroy the bridge. Ukraine’s postal service says it will print a special stamp.
“There is no doubt that we are witnessing the beginnings of large-scale negative processes in Russia,” Zelenskiy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in a commentary, blaming a spat of words. in Putin’s encirclement when he attributed the explosion to Russian executives.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Kyiv’s response to the destruction of civilian infrastructure was “a testament to its terrorist nature”.
Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee said a cargo truck blew up in the roadway of the bridge at 6:07 a.m. (0307 GMT). It said two spans of the road bridge had partially collapsed, but that the arch spanning the channel through which ships passed between the Black Sea and the Sea of ​​Azov was not damaged.
Emergencies Minister Alexander Kurenkov told state news agency TASS that fast-thinking railway workers who promptly handled the burning fuel wagons kept the fire from spreading.
The image shows that half of the road is blown away, the other half is still attached.
Moscow has portrayed largely Russian-speaking Crimea as part of Russia’s history and especially this year, a place where its citizens can go on vacation.
Kirill Stremousov, deputy manager of the Russian-installed Kherson region, said the explosion “would not have much impact on the supply of troops”.
“But there will be logistical problems for Crimea,” he added in a social media post.

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