The Crimean bridge caught fire and collapsed after a powerful explosion. What is its strategic consequence?

A truck filled with explosives enter the Crimean bridge and explode and caught fire. Due to fire and explosion, Kerch bridge lost at least three spans – two of them were completely in the water, while the third collapsed partially. 

At about 6 am Russian time in the area of ​​the Crimean bridge, a strong explosion thundered and a fire started. Residents of the Crimea and the Krasnodar Territory report that at around 6 am in the direction of the Crimean bridge, a strong explosion thundered, after which a powerful fire began, which can be observed from a distance of several tens of kilometers. Judging by the pictures and video footage, the strongest fire is observed on the railway line of the Crimean bridge.

Russia’s National Counter-Terrorism Committee reported that in the early morning of the same day, a truck on the Crimean Bridge exploded, causing a fire in the fuel train and damaging several freight cars. The video of the scene showed that the scene was thick with smoke, part of the roadbed of the bridge collapsed, and the bridge body fell into the sea. According to Russian media reports, traffic on the Crimean Bridge has been suspended and fire extinguishing work is underway.

The Crimean Bridge (also known as the Kerch Strait Bridge) is a railway and road dual-use bridge connecting the Taman Peninsula and the Crimean Peninsula of Kerch, with a length of 19 kilometers and a sea-span of 7.5 kilometers.

Russian Special services are busy finding out the reasons how a truck filled with explosives could enter the Crimean bridge.

Today’s explosion on the Crimean bridge raised quite a lot of questions about how a truck, in the back of which the explosives were probably located, could even enter the structure through the Kerch Strait. At the moment, it is known for certain that the explosion occurred at the moment when a truck was moving along the Kerch bridge, however, the latter had to undergo a special check for the presence of explosives.

At the moment, the damage caused by a powerful explosion and fire on the Crimean bridge is being assessed, however, only according to preliminary data, the damage from the incident that occurred is estimated at about 300-500 million rubles. Taking into account the fact that the damage can also be covert, the amount can increase many times over.

At the moment it is known that the automobile branch of the Kerch bridge lost at least three spans – two of them were completely in the water, while the third collapsed partially. The state of the railway line of the Kerch bridge is still very difficult to assess, however, it also needs to be restored.

How much time it may take to restore the land corridor with Crimea is unknown, however, this may depend on the degree of damage and the complexity of organizing work – according to the estimated judgments of specialists, the minimum period will be 14 days, while transportation to Crimea can be organized along the surviving spans provided that it can be established that they can be operated safely.

The Crimean Bridge consists of a pair of parallel bridges – the road bridge and the railway bridge. Video shows the explosion taking place over a road bridge, but the explosion was so strong it caught a fuel train.

Foreign media reports pointed out that the Crimea Bridge is an important logistics supply line for Russia, a key link in the delivery of military equipment to the Russian army in southern Ukraine, and an important target for the Ukrainian army to attack the Russian supply line. After the line was damaged, the Russian army in the south was left with only one railway supply line – between Krasnodar and Melitopol.

The Crimean Bridge has an important symbolic significance for both Russia and Ukraine. The idea of building the Crimean Bridge dates back to the early 20th century, but it was not materialized due to a variety of factors such as World War II, lack of funds, and the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 2010, then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed an agreement to build a bridge over the Kerch Strait. However, in 2014, the Crimean crisis broke out, the situation took a sharp turn and bilateral negotiations on the construction of the bridge broke down.

After the Crimean public entered Russia, the Crimean Bridge became an important project for Russia to consolidate its control over the Crimean region. Although Ukraine has lost control of the Crimean Peninsula, it still has a land connection to Crimea that can be cut off by closing land lines of communication. The Russian territory did not directly border the Crimean Peninsula, and at that time, it could only use the ferry lines of the Kerch Strait to connect with the Russian mainland, and the ferry lines were severely restricted by the weather, and vehicles were often lined up in long queues.

Therefore, for Russian residents living on the Crimean Peninsula, the completed Crimean Bridge is an important “lifeline” to the motherland.

For Ukraine, the Crimean Bridge is like “Russia’s finger choking the throat of the Sea of Azov”: the Kerch Strait is the only way to enter the Sea of Azov, the territorial sea of Ukraine. By building the Crimean Bridge, Russia was able to limit the size of ships entering the Sea of Azov and reaching Ukrainian ports.

Since Russia launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine in February this year, Ukraine has called for the “destruction” of the Kerch Bridge. Russian presidential press secretary Peskov responded that such an appeal was “declaring possible terrorist acts, which is absolutely unacceptable.”

According to the Ukrainian Independent News Agency, after the incident, Podolyak, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidential office, said that the Crimea Bridge incident is just a “beginning”, all illegal things will be destroyed, all stolen things will be returned to Ukraine, and the Russian occupation will be completely expelled.

Officials of the Crimean authorities said that the damaged section of the Crimean Bridge would be repaired and that the Ukrainian side should be held responsible. Putin has ordered the establishment of a government committee on the Crimean Bridge emergency.

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