Two people have been killed following reported explosions on a bridge linking Russia with Crimea.
The couple who lost their lives in the unspecified incident were parents, according to officials in Russia’s Krasnodar region, which lies at the eastern end of the bridge.
Their daughter, who was a passenger in the car, was wounded and is in intensive care, officials said.
Putin will have renewed anxiety after bridge attack
This second attack on the Kerch Bridge is very bad news for Russia and its leader, both strategically and symbolically.
The bridge is one of only two ways for Russia to supply the Crimean Peninsula, which it occupied in 2014.
The other route is the coastal highway on the Sea of Azov that runs through the strip of occupied land that bridges Crimea with the Russian-occupied Donbas region in the east of Ukraine. That route is also threatened by Ukrainian missile strikes.
The bridge attack has severed, for now at least, one of the two main military arteries pumping supplies of men and weapons to the front.
“The girl was injured. The hardest thing is that her parents died. No words can calm the pain of loss here,” said Vyacheslav Gladkov in a message on the Telegram messaging app.
Moscow blamed Kyiv for the blasts on the bridge – Europe’s longest – which it cast as a “terror” attack.
“Today’s attack on the Crimean bridge was carried out by the Kyiv regime. This regime is terrorist and has all the hallmarks of an international organised crime group,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.
“Decisions are made by Ukrainian officials and the military with the direct participation of American and British intelligence agencies and politicians. The US and Britain are in charge of a terrorist state structure.”
She did not provide any evidence to support the claims.
As Russia accused Ukraine of carrying out the attack, the Kremlin announced on Monday it was halting the landmark UN and Turkey-brokered deal that allows the export of Ukrainian grain via the Black Sea – which was due to expire today.
It said the decision was unrelated to the bridge blasts, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying parts of the agreement had not been fulfilled and, therefore, it was ceasing effect, adding Moscow would return to the deal once the conditions relating to Russia were met.
‘Water surface drones behind bridge attack’
Russia’s Anti-Terrorist Committee alleged Ukrainian “special services” were behind the bridge explosions, saying Ukraine attacked the bridge overnight using unmanned drones on the water surface, adding it had opened a criminal investigation.
Ukraine has denied being behind the explosions and suggested it could be a Russian provocation, though anonymous sources have suggested the SBU (Ukraine’s Security Service) was behind the incident.
Traffic on the Kerch Bridge linking Russia with Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, was halted earlier following the dawn blasts. Dash cam footage showed drivers braking sharply.
Crimean residents were urged by authorities not to travel via the bridge.
The bridge carries both road and rail traffic and is an important supply artery for Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Videos and pictures verified by Sky News show the road in both directions has been damaged.
One so severely, it’s collapsed. The other has detached from the rest of the bridge.
Key Putin supply line damaged
The rail line appears to be undamaged, while the lack of damage to the road barriers indicates the explosion could have occurred under the bridge.
If the bridge has been seriously damaged, it will significantly impact Russian supply lines, according to George Barros, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War.
Russian President Vladimir Putin regards it as a landmark infrastructure project and, after repairs following an explosion last year, he drove a Mercedes across it.
Russia blamed Ukraine for an attack on the bridge last October, saying it was organised by Ukrainian military intelligence. Ukraine admitted only indirectly to the attack months later.