Putin: Russian Defense Ministry preparing response to Crimea bridge attack

Putin on Crimea bridge attack

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a televised meeting with officials to assess the consequences of an attack on the Crimean Bridge in Moscow, Russia July 17, 2023. Sputnik/Alexander Kazakov/Kremlin via REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday his defense ministry was preparing proposals for a response to an overnight attack that damaged the road bridge linking Crimea to southern Russia, for which he blamed Ukraine.

At the end of a televised video meeting with national and regional officials to assess the consequences of the attack, Putin called it a cruel and senseless act, as he said the bridge “has not been used for military transportation for a long time”.

Russian authorities had said a couple driving over the bridge to go on holiday in Crimea had been killed, and their 14-year-old daughter had been injured.

Kyiv did not officially claim responsibility, but Ukrainian media said Ukrainian security services had deployed maritime drones against the bridge.

The attack was similar to one in October, implicitly claimed by Ukraine, that put both the road and rail bridges out of action for a time.

After two such incidents in his war with Ukraine, Putin demanded “concrete” proposals to ensure the security of the bridge, a prestige project that he instigated after Russia seized and then unilaterally annexed the peninsula on the Black Sea from Ukraine in 2014.

Ukraine has vowed to take Crimea back, along with all the territory that Russia has seized since launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine – which Moscow calls a “special military operation” – in February 2022.

The latest attack coincided with the summer holiday season, and meant Russian tourists wanting to drive to or from Crimea would face the prospect of long queues for a car ferry, or crossing territory seized by Russia that Ukraine has vowed to recapture.

Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin told the video conference that there was no damage to the pylons of the 19-km (12-mile) bridge, but that a span carrying traffic in one direction had been completely destroyed and would have to be rebuilt.

He said road traffic would resume in one direction by Sept. 15, and would be restored in both directions by Nov. 1. The parallel railway bridge was not damaged.

Kyiv says Russians have no business holidaying on seized territory, especially while Moscow is bombing Ukraine.


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