Traffic on the strategic Kerch bridge that connects occupied Crimea with Russia was brought to a halt in the early hours of Monday morning after Moscow said a section of the overland crossing was attacked by two Ukrainian drones.
The bridge, which provides a crucial overland supply route for troops, weapons and fuel to support Russia’s forces in southern Ukraine, is important both practically and symbolically to President Vladimir Putin, who opened it personally in 2018. The bridge was the target of an attack during Ukraine’s counteroffensive last October.
Ukraine’s security services published a cryptic poem in which it appeared to claim responsibility for Monday’s incident. “Nightingale, my dear brother; The bridge has gone to sleep again; Once … twice!” the SBU wrote, adding: “P.S. The music is folk. The words are by the Security Service of Ukraine.” Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar recently acknowledged Kyiv’s forces were behind last October’s attack on the Kerch bridge.
According to a statement published by Russia’s state-run TASS news agency and attributed to the press service of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, an investigation found that “one of the sections of the Crimean bridge was damaged as a result of a terrorist act committed by Ukrainian special services. Two civilians — a man and a woman traveling in a passenger car on the bridge — were killed.”
The statement added that the attack was carried out by two drones at 3:05 a.m. local time, with the road surface damaged.
Locals were asked to “refrain from traveling across the Crimean bridge” on Monday and to “choose an alternative land route,” the Russia-installed governor of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov said on Telegram, adding that “an emergency situation” had occurred at the bridge’s 145th pillar.
Road traffic has been suspended, while boat and train traffic was to resume at 9 a.m. local time (8 a.m. CET), Aksyonov said.
Locals reported hearing explosions in the area, according to accounts on Telegram.
Monday’s incident came the day the Black Sea grain deal, which allows the safe passage of Ukrainian grain exports, is due to expire, with Moscow indicating it will not extend it.