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Russia closes prized bridge after Ukraine drone strike on ammo depot in Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s prized bridge — the Kerch Strait Bridge connecting Russia and the Crimean Peninsula — was forced to shut down Saturday following a Ukrainian drone strike on a nearby ammunition depot, Russian-backed authorities said.

Ukraine said that its army had destroyed an oil depot along with Russian military warehouses in Russian-occupied Crimea with the strike.

Video on social media showed a plume of thick black smoke rising from the site of the attack.

Sergei Aksyonov, the Moscow-installed governor of the peninsula, confirmed a drone hit the ammunition depot, which prompted an evacuation order for everyone within a roughly 3-mile radius, along with suspending traffic and rail services on the Kerch bridge “to minimize risk.”

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The drone strikes came just five days after explosions on the bridge killed two people and seriously damaged its roadway structure. The attack on the bridge was the second in less than a year, following a powerful blast in October that killed three people and caused a partial roadway collapse.

The bridge was thrown following Moscow’s annexation of the region in 2014. Putin inaugurated the double-span crossing in 2018, and considers it an important symbol of the “reunification” of Russia and Crimea.

Vladimiar Putin
Vladimiar Putin

It serves as a vital artery for supplying Russian troops fighting in Ukraine with weapons and ammunition.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has pledged to retake Crimea as well as the occupied territory on the mainland, said that the bridge was fair game to target because of its military role.

Saturday’s strike came a day after Zelensky told security experts gathered in Aspen, Colorado, that Ukraine’s counteroffensive will begin to speed up amid Western leaders’ growing frustration over the slow progress of the campaign, CNN reported.

Volodymyr Zelensky
Volodymyr Zelensky

“We are approaching a moment when relevant actions can gain pace because we are already going through some mines locations and we are demining these areas,” Zelensky said via video to Aspen Security Forum attendees.

World leaders, meanwhile, are scrambling to figure out how to handle Russia’s decision to pull out of the landmark Black Sea Grain Initiative brokered last summer by the United Nations and Turkey.

The deal, first signed in July 2022, promised to allow grain and other food shipments from the Black Sea region to mitigate a global food crisis brought on by Russia’s invasion of its neighbor.

Zelensky said that he hoped to continue carrying out the initiative even if Russia was no longer guaranteeing ships’ safety.

SOURCE: New york post