Vehicle traffic on the single bridge that links Russia to Moscow-annexed Crimea and serves as a key supply route for the Kremlin’s forces in the war with Ukraine came to a standstill Monday after one of its sections was blown up, killing a married couple and wounding their daughter.
Rail traffic across the 19-kilometer (12-mile) Kerch Bridge also stopped but resumed after about six hours.
The strike was carried out by two Ukrainian sea drones, Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee said.
Ukrainian officials were coy about taking responsibility, as they have been in past strikes. But in what appeared to be a tacit acknowledgment, Ukrainian Security Service spokesman Artem Degtyarenko said in a statement that his agency would reveal details of how the “bang” was organized after Ukraine has won the war.
The attack was the second major strike on the bridge since October, when a truck bomb blew up two of its sections.
Video posted by Crimea 24 online news channel showed a section of the bridge tilted and hanging down, but there was no indication any portion had fallen into the water.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin told reporters that authorities are carrying out a detailed inspection of the damage before determining how long it will take to repair.
The Kerch Bridge is a conspicuous symbol of Moscow’s claims on Crimea and an essential land link to the peninsula, which Russia captured from Ukraine in 2014. The $3.6 billion bridge is the longest in Europe and is crucial for enabling Russia’s military operations in southern Ukraine during the almost 17-month-long war.
Russia has expanded its presence in Crimea since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Occasional acts of sabotage and other attacks against Russian military and other facilities on the peninsula have occurred since, with the Kremlin blaming Ukraine.
The attack on the bridge comes as Ukrainian forces are trying to press a counteroffensive in several sections of the front line. It also happened just hours before Russia, as expected, announced it is halting a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey that allows the export of Ukrainian grain during the war.
Kyiv didn’t initially acknowledge responsibility for last October’s bombing of the bridge, either, but Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar acknowledged earlier this month that Ukraine struck it to derail Russian logistics. At the time of the attack, Moscow decried it as an act of terror and vowed to step up its own attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure. It targeted the Ukrainian power grid over the winter.
Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, returned to that theme on Monday, calling the Ukrainian government a “terrorist organization.”
“We must blow up their houses and houses of their relatives, search and eliminate their accomplices,” he said.
Russia’s Belgorod region Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said the attack killed a married couple from the region while their daughter was hospitalized with serious injuries.
Russian authorities said the attack didn’t affect the piers but damaged the decking in a section of one of the two road links. The damage appeared less serious than in October’s attack that took months to repair.
Andriy Yusov, a spokesman for Ukraine’s military intelligence department, declined to comment Monday on the incident but said: “The peninsula is used by the Russians as a large logistical hub for moving forces and assets deep into the territory of Ukraine. Of course, any logistical problems are additional complications for the occupiers.”
The Security Service of Ukraine posted a redacted version of a popular lullaby, tweaked to say that the bridge “went to sleep again.”