Crimea bridge explosion kills three as Zelensky aide warns blast ‘is the beginning’

Three people were killed in a devastating explosion on a crucial bridge linking Russia and Crimea, Russia says.

The blast occurred when a truck blew up on the bridge’s roadway at 6.07am on Saturday, according to Moscow’s investigative committee, and caused seven fuel tanker wagons to catch fire on a train passing on the upper level.

At least three sections of the road collapsed into the water below following the explosion, a route through which ships travel between the Black and Azov seas.

Kyiv officials said the explosion is “just the beginning” but did not claim responsibility for the blast, while Moscow has not officially assigned any blame.

“Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything that is stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled,” Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted following the blast.

Echoing the tune of Russia paying the price of its sins, David Arakhamia, the leader of Volodymyr Zelensky’s party, said the explosion was a consequence of Moscow’s takeover of Crimea.

He wrote on Telegram: “Russian illegal construction is starting to fall apart and catch fire. The reason is simple: if you build something explosive, then sooner or later it will explode.”

Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and the 12-mile bridge linking it to Russia’s transport network was opened with great fanfare four years later by Putin himself.

It now represents a major supply route for the Russian forces who have taken control of most of southern Ukraine‘s Kherson region, and for the naval port of Sevastopol, whose governor told locals: “Keep calm. Don’t panic.”

It was not yet clear if the blast was a deliberate attack or an accident, but the damage to such high-profile infrastructure came at a time when Russia has suffered several battlefield defeats and could further cloud the Kremlin’s messages of reassurance to the wider Russian public that the conflict is going to plan.

Taking place a day after Putin’s 70th birthday, the head of Ukraine‘s National Security and Defence Council, Oleksiy Danilov, posted a video of the burning bridge on social media alongside a video of Marilyn Monroe singing “Happy birthday, Mr President”.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Kyiv’s reaction to the destruction of civilian infrastructure “testifies to its terrorist nature”.

Kirill Stremousov, the Russian-installed deputy administrator of the Kherson region, said the bridge incident “will not affect the army supply very much”.

“But there will be problems with logistics for Crimea,” he added in a post on social media.

Mykola Bielieskov of the Ukrainian Institute of Strategic Studies, which advises the presidency in Kyiv, said the Kerch bridge was irreplaceable for Russia‘s invasion forces, and if it were severed, “the whole Russian southern front will crumble quickly and easily”.

Helicopters poured water on the fire to tackle the flames

In a video message Aksyonov, Crimea’s governor, said he wanted to “assure Crimeans that the Republic of Crimea is fully provided with fuel and food. We have more than a month’s worth of fuel, and more than two months’ worth of food”.

The bridge was opened by Putin four years ago

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