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Russia closes Crimea bridge — again — after attack on ammo depot

Russia closes Crimea bridge — again — after attack on ammo depot

by host

Four days after re-opening the strategic Crimea bridge that links Russia to the occupied Ukrainian peninsula, Moscow was forced to close it again due to another attack.

A drone assault on an ammunition depot in the Krasnogvardeysky district has caused residents within a 5 kilometer radius of the area to be evacuated, and for rail traffic to be suspended on the Kerch bridge into Crimea. Social media reports suggested that an oil depot had been struck in Oktyabr’skiy, south of the town of Krasnogvardeysky and close to an airfield.

The attack was more than 200 kilometers from the bridge, but Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian-installed governor of occupied Crimea, said on Telegram that train traffic will be suspended “to minimize risk.” The main rail line from the bridge travels through Crimea and eventually branches around to Krasnogvardeysky, a small town roughly in the center of the Russian occupied territory.

Earlier, Aksyonov reported on an attempted drone raid on infrastructure in the same district, Russian state-owned media TASS reported. POLITICO has been unable to verify these reports.

The Kerch bridge, completed in 2018, four years after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal occupation of Crimea, is a critical land route into the peninsula, re-supplying Moscow’s forces fighting in southern Ukraine with troops, weapons and fuel.

Its closure on Saturday is the second in a week, after the bridge was struck by two drones on Monday, killing two civilians and collapsing part of the roadway structure. One lane was re-opened and the rail line continued to operate.

The bridge was also the target of an attack during Ukraine’s counteroffensive last October.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the Aspen security conference in the U.S. on Friday that the Kerch bridge was a military target, according to a Reuters report. “This is the route used to feed the war with ammunition and this is being done on a daily basis. And it militarizes the Crimean peninsula,” Zelenskyy said.

“For us, this is understandably an enemy facility built outside international laws and all applicable norms. So, understandably, this is a target for us. And a target that is bringing war, not peace, has to be neutralized,” the Ukrainian leader said, in comments relayed through an interpreter.

No one has yet come forward to take responsibility for this week’s attacks.

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