A view through a train window shows the section of a road split and sloping to one side following an alleged attack on the Crimea Bridge, that connects the Russian mainland with the Crimean peninsula across the Kerch Strait, in this still image from video taken July 17, 2023. (Photo by: REUTERS/Stringer)
OAN’s Noah Herring
11:58 AM – Monday, July 17, 2023
Ukrainian naval drones launched an attack on Monday on a major bridge that links Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, killing two people and seriously injuring one, according to the Kremlin.
The bridge, which was a symbolic and strategically important piece of infrastructure that President Vladimir Putin opened in 2018, connects the road and rail traffic from Russia to the Ukrainian peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014.
Russian officials indicated that the Kerch Bridge, which is nearly 12 miles long, was hit by two strikes from “unmanned naval surface vehicles,” the National Antiterrorism Committee said in a statement.
“There is damage to the roadway on spans of the Crimean Bridge,” Russia’s Transport Ministry said on Telegram.
The spans on a bridge are the lengths between the support piers. Images provided by The Associated Press showed that a section of the road had collapsed with warped metal girders hanging towards the water.
A man and a woman who were driving on the bridge were killed and their daughter was seriously injured, according to the statement.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said at a daily briefing that Russia knew “the reasons” behind “this terrorist act,” but did not elaborate further. Both Peskov and the country’s foreign ministry claimed Western involvement in the incident, however, they did not cite any evidence for that belief.
“If the Western origin of the naval surface drones that attacked the bridge — as well as the role of Western countries in planning, sponsoring and carrying out this operation — is revealed, this will confirm their complicity in the terrorist activities of the Kyiv regime,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Ukraine’s military intelligence spokesperson, Andriy Yusov, declined to comment on whether or not Ukraine was involved with the attack.
Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern command, claimed that it could be Russia behind the attack, proposing that the Kremlin attacked itself.
“Given the unprecedented security measures that the Russians have been taking for a long time around the Crimean bridge, they most likely controlled this entire situation and it continues to unfold according to the script programmed by them,” she said.
In October, Russia blamed Ukraine for a separate explosion that damaged the bridge, which Ukraine initially denied. However, Ukraine later admitted indirectly that they were responsible for the attack just months later.
Hours after the event, Russia announced that it will expire a deal with Ukraine that allowed the export of Ukrainian grain, sparking fear of food insecurity.
The deal let cargo ships pass through the Black Sea from the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and Yuzhny.
Moscow said that it would return to the agreement if conditions were met, including grain being supplied to poorer countries. Russia also complained of Western sanctions that were restricting its own agricultural exports.
The grain deal is important as Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of sunflower, maize, wheat and barley. Blockage of the grain would most likely result in a skyrocket of global food prices.
Peskov claimed that the decision to let the deal expire was not related to the drone strike on the bridge.
“Before this attack, the position was declared by President Putin”, he told reporters.
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CORRECTION (July 17, 2023, 12:18 p.m. PT): A previous version of this article did not mention details of the grain deal.