Ukraine Strikes 2 Bridges Connected to Russian-Occupied Crimea (2023)



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Ukraine has grown bolder, firing drones at Moscow, while Russian forces have turned to regular attacks on the Black Sea, a crucial economic lifeline.

Ukraine Strikes 2 Bridges Connected to Russian-Occupied Crimea (1)

By Matthew Mpoke Bigg,Vivek Shankar and Anushka Patil

Ukrainian forces struck two bridges connecting Russian-occupied Crimea to the rest of Ukraine on Sunday, part of a broader pattern of attacks on and around the peninsula that has sought to scramble critical supply routes for the Kremlin and push the scope of the war into fresh territory.

One of the strikes tore three holes in the roadway of the Chonhar Bridge, which links Crimea to the Russian-occupied Kherson region, forcing it to close to traffic, according to the Russian-backed governor of the region, Vladimir Saldo. The same bridge was struck by Ukrainian forces in June, Russian-backed officials said.

Sunday’s attacks also injured a driver and closed traffic on a second bridge to the east of Chonhar, near the small town of Henichesk, Mr. Saldo said. A gas pipeline near the bridge was damaged, cutting off supplies to more than 20,000 people, he added.

The load-bearing structure of the Chonhar Bridge was not damaged, and traffic on the Henichesk Bridge was to be restored by the end of the day, Mr. Saldo said. His claims about the extent of the damage could not be independently verified.

Ukraine’s armed forces took credit for both strikes on Sunday, in another departure from their typically coy approach as President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top officials emphasize that their new aim is to force ordinary Russians to face up to the Kremlin’s war.

The bridge attacks came the same day that Russian air defenses shot down a hostile drone that had been approaching Moscow, according to a brief statement on the Telegram messaging app posted by the city’s mayor, Sergei S. Sobyanin. The claim has not been independently verified, and Ukrainian officials did not immediately comment. At the same time, the Vnukovo airport, which serves Moscow, temporarily suspended flights for “security reasons,” according to a Telegram post from the Russian state news agency Tass.

The Russian authorities gave no further details about the drone on Sunday. But this past week, they accused Ukraine of twice launching drone strikes that damaged a high-rise in Moscow housing government ministries. Those appeared to be part of an increasingly brazen pattern of attacks on Russian territory including one, in May, in which a drone struck the Kremlin.

Russia has taken steps to intensify attacks on different areas of Ukraine. For a year, the port city of Odesa, crucial before the war for exports of Ukrainian grain, was largely spared Russian strikes. But since Moscow terminated a wartime deal three weeks ago that had allowed Ukraine to continue to ship its grain and other foodstuffs across the Black Sea, Russian forces have struck the port repeatedly, damaging facilities and grain stocks.

The goal has been to thwart any possible attempt by Ukraine to export its produce unilaterally across waters dominated by the Russian Navy.

In addition, Russian missiles have struck Ukraine’s ports on the Danube River in recent days. The ports, while smaller than the one at Odesa, provide a crucial alternative export route for millions of tons of grain. Again, the aim appeared to be to complicate the transport of crops important both for Ukraine’s economy and for global markets.


On Sunday, Ukraine’s air force said on Telegram that the country’s air defenses had shot down 30 cruise missiles and 27 drones overnight.

Russia launched an aerial attack on Khmelnytskyi, in central Ukraine, causing damage to buildings but no casualties, according to Serhiy Tyurin, deputy head of the regional military administration there. The region, which is west of the Dnipro River, had largely escaped unscathed up to now.

Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said that Russia had used precision weapons to strike Ukrainian military air bases near the city of Starokostiantyniv, in the western Khmelnytskyi region, and also in Dubno, in the northwestern Rivne region. It was not possible immediately to verify the claims independently.

Despite the high toll of the war on both countries’ militaries and also on Ukrainian civilians — more than 9,000 of whom have been killed, according to United Nations data — talks to end the fighting have yet to yield any significant progress.

This is in part because both sides are seeking to make territorial gains on the battlefield. Mr. Zelensky has also proposed a peace formula that includes a Russian cessation of hostilities and Moscow’s withdrawal from the entirety of Ukrainian territory, including Crimea, demands the Kremlin flatly rejects.

As part of a diplomatic push, however, representatives from Ukraine and from about 40 other countries — with the notable exception of Russia — gathered in Saudi Arabia over the weekend in an effort to build international consensus for a peace settlement.

In addition to the United States and European countries, notable attendees included Brazil, China, India and South Africa, known collectively as BRICS, as well as some of the oil-rich Persian Gulf nations that have tried to maintain good relations with both Ukraine and Russia throughout the war. Mr. Zelensky’s office said Sunday that the meeting had been a “step toward the practical implementation of peace initiatives proposed by Ukraine.”

China, which has cast itself as neutral, was open to the idea of holding further discussions, according to a European Union official. Victoria Nuland, the acting U.S. deputy secretary of state for political affairs, met with the leader of the Chinese delegation during the talks, according to Biden administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to let Saudi and Ukrainian officials speak for the conference.

Russia will discuss the results of the talks with other BRICS nations that participated in the meeting, Sergei A. Ryabkov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, told Tass on Sunday.

As the talks took place, a Russian aerial guided bomb struck the Kupiansk district in the northeastern region of Kharkiv late on Saturday and sparked a fire, killing at least two people, according to Oleg Sinegubov, the head of the regional administration.

A third person — a 58-year-old woman — was killed on Sunday after further Russian shelling in Kupiansk, Mr. Sinegubov said on Telegram. There was no independent confirmation of the attacks.

In June, Ukraine launched a new counteroffensive, for which its forces had prepared for months, aiming to cut off Russian forces in southern Ukraine from land they control in the east. Both sides have sustained significant casualties as Ukraine battles to penetrate Russian defenses, and two women in the eastern region of Donetsk were killed by Ukrainian shelling on Saturday, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said, citing the region’s Russian-installed leader Denis Pushilin. The report could not be independently verified.


In his nightly address on Sunday, which was Ukrainian Air Force Day, Mr. Zelensky praised the work of soldiers fighting aerial battles against Russian missiles and drones with advanced air defense systems from international allies.

“In our skies, we can prove that terror is losing,” Mr. Zelensky said, adding, “Ukraine can win this battle, and our sky shield will eventually guarantee security for the whole of Europe.”

Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Michael Crowley contributed reporting.

Matthew Mpoke Bigg is a correspondent covering international news. He previously worked as a reporter, editor and bureau chief for Reuters and did postings in Nairobi, Abidjan, Atlanta, Jakarta and Accra. More about Matthew Mpoke Bigg

Vivek Shankar is a senior staff editor on the International desk. Previously, he worked for Bloomberg News in San Francisco, Sydney and Washington. More about Vivek Shankar

AnushkaPatilis a reporter covering live news. She joined The Times in 2019. More about Anushka Patil

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How much did the Crimea Bridge cost in dollars? ›

Built by the Russian Federation after the annexation of Crimea at the start of 2014, the bridge cost ₽227.92 billion (US$3.7 billion) and has a length of 19 km (12 mi), making it the longest bridge in Europe and the longest bridge ever constructed by Russia. It is also considered as the longest drawbridge in the world.

Who attacked the Crimea Bridge? ›

KYIV, Aug 5 (Reuters) - A Ukrainian sea drone full of explosives struck a Russian fuel tanker overnight near a bridge linking Russia to annexed Crimea, the second such attack in 24 hours, both sides said on Saturday.

Why is it called the Crimea? ›

The name Crimea (via Italian, from Turkic Qirim) originates as the name of the provincial capital of the Golden Horde, the city now known as Staryi Krym.

How big is Crimea? ›

Covering an area of 27,000 km2 (10,425 sq mi), Crimea is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea and on the western coast of the Sea of Azov; the only land border is shared with Ukraine's Kherson Oblast on the north.

Why did the Crimea bridge blast? ›

"It is one of our actions, namely the destruction of the Crimean bridge on Oct. 8 last year." The bridge was badly damaged in October in a powerful blast, with Russian officials saying the explosion was caused by a truck that blew up while crossing the bridge, killing three people.

Was the Crimean Bridge rebuilt? ›

The Crimean Bridge has been repaired and reopened to traffic following an explosion in October that saw several spans collapse into the water below, according to Russia. Initial reports following the blast said that repair works would not be completed until July 2023.

How did Crimea bridge get attacked? ›

What happened on the bridge? The bridge suffered damage, according to Russian authorities, after one of its sections was blown up, killing two people and wounding a child. Russia's National Antiterrorism Committee said the strike on the 19km (12-mile) Kerch Bridge was carried out by two Ukrainian sea drones.

What happened to the Crimea bridge? ›

Russia accused Ukraine of hitting the Kerch Strait Bridge for the second time in 10 months, saying that two maritime drones had struck the bridge, an essential supply line for Russian troops.

Where did the Crimea bridge explode? ›

Twin explosions have damaged the Kerch Bridge connecting Crimea to mainland Russia, killing two people and closing the main conduit for Russian road traffic to the annexed peninsula.

Why did Stalin give Crimea to Ukraine? ›

On 19 February 1954, the oblast was transferred from the Russian SFSR to the Ukrainian SSR jurisdiction, on the basis of "the integral character of the economy, the territorial proximity and the close economic and cultural ties between the Crimea Province and the Ukrainian SSR" and to commemorate the 300th anniversary ...

What percent of Crimea is Russian? ›

82% Russian. 10% Crimean Tatar. 3% Russian and Ukrainian equally.

Why does Russia think it owns Crimea? ›

Russia claimed the Republic of Crimea (country) as a federal district, the Crimean Federal District, on the grounds of historical control of the area and the local population's right to self-determination reflected in the annexation vote.

What language do they speak in Crimea? ›

Crimean Tatar is one of the seriously endangered languages in Europe. Almost all Crimean Tatars are bilingual or multilingual, using as their first language the dominant languages of their respective home countries, such as Russian, Turkish, Romanian, Uzbek, Bulgarian or Ukrainian.

Why is Ukraine so important to Russia? ›

Russia has deep cultural, economic, and political bonds with Ukraine, and in many ways Ukraine is central to Russia's identity and vision for itself in the world. Family ties. Russia and Ukraine have strong familial bonds that go back centuries.

Who won the Crimean War? ›

On 30th March 1856, the Crimean War was formally brought to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. This formal recognition signed at the Congress of Paris came after Russia accepted a humiliating defeat against the alliance of Britain, France, the Ottoman Empire and Sardinia.

When was bridge to Crimea built? ›

How long is Russian Crimea bridge? ›

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