The only bridge connecting Russia to the occupied Crimea peninsula and the most important supply line for Russian army fighting in southern Ukraine has been severely damaged after a massive explosion on Saturday Oct. 8.
The explosion on two sections of the 12-mile Kerch Strait bridge sent parts of the road and rail bridge crashing into the sea.
Russian authorities said at least three people were killed.
Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, a senior Ukrainian official told the New York Times that the explosion had been orchestrated by Ukraine’s intelligence service by loading a bomb onto a truck driving across the bridge.
The bridge was personally opened by Russian president Vladimir Putin in 2018, four years after his illegal annexation of Crimea, and is symbolic of Russia’s control of Crimea.
The explosion on the bridge, which according to the New York Times holds personal importance to Putin, highlights Russia’s recent and mounting losses in the war.
In recent days, Ukraine has made “stunning” gains on its eastern and southern fronts, liberating regions that Russian illegally annexed just a few weeks ago, according to the Economist.
The gains have left the Russian army in disarray, leading Putin to threaten nuclear retaliation.
Ukrainians have celebrated the strike, with the official Ukraine Twitter account tweeting “sick burn” after the explosion.
Meanwhile, Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted, “Crimea, a bridge, the beginning. Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled.”
Speaking on Sunday, Putin accused Ukraine of being behind the attack, calling it “an act of terrorism.”
“There is no doubt that this is a terrorist attack aimed at destroying the critically important civilian infrastructure of the Russian Federation,” he said. “The authors, performers, and customers are the secret services of Ukraine.”
Russian authorities said the bridge had partially reopened to some car and train traffic, but the extent of damage remains unclear.
On Monday, Russia launched missile strikes on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities during rush hour in what appeared to be revenge strikes.
The strikes killed civilians and destroyed infrastructure, leaving five people killed and 12 people injured in Kyiv, in what appeared to be the most intense attack on the capital since the invasion on Feb. 24, according to Bloomberg.
“They are trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth,” Zelensky said on Telegram. “The air raid sirens do not subside throughout Ukraine. There are missiles hitting. Unfortunately, there are dead and wounded.”