Dramatic footage appears to show the moment a deadly kamikaze drone strike hit Vladimir Putin’s £3billion bridge linking Russia to Crimea, sparking a fireball explosion.
The Russian-installed head of Crimea’s parliament claimed Ukraine conducted the attack on the 12-mile crossing while the Kremlin accused the UK and US of helping Kyiv, despite not providing any evidence.
Video reportedly shows huge explosions, with large flashes and thunderous blasts seen and heard from neighbouring towns.
A couple were killed and their 14-year-old daughter was seriously injured following the blasts on the bridge, which is a major supply line for Russian troops fighting in Ukraine and a prestige project that was personally opened by Putin.
A section of the crossing was destroyed in the double strike, with pictures showing twisted metal barriers, debris and a damaged car in a major blow to Moscow’s war effort.
‘It’s very bad, in real life [the damage] looks very bad,’ a witness told local media.
Drivers were seen in dash cam footage braking sharply after the explosions destroyed parts of the crossing and sent debris flying towards them at around 3am on Monday morning.
Huge explosions hit the Crimea Bridge, with large flashes and thunderous blasts seen and heard from neighbouring towns
The night sky was lit up after the explosions on the major 12-mile crossing in the early hours of Monday morning
Sections of the bridge are missing alongside twisted metal barriers following the strikes
The bridge was severely damaged, with one part of the road slanting away towards the water of the Kerch Strait below
Parents Natalya Kulik, 36, and her husband Alexei, 40, were killed in the strike. They had been in their Hyundai car which was close to one of the blasts.
Their daughter Angelina, 14, suffered wounds, a broken nose and concussion.
‘The girl was injured,’ Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the Belgorod region said in a message on the Telegram messaging app. ‘The hardest thing is that her parents died, dad and mum.’
‘No words can calm the pain of loss here,’ he said. The girl is being treated in intensive care at a hospital in Russia’s Krasnodar region.
Sergei Aksyonov, a Russia-installed governor, said the ’emergency’ occurred on the 145th pillar of the bridge. He did not provide any further details.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused Ukraine of carrying out the attack with the involvement of Britain and the US – without providing any evidence to support her outlandish claims.
‘Today’s attack on the Crimean bridge was carried out by the Kyiv regime. This regime is terrorist and has all the hallmarks of an international organised crime group,’ she said.
‘Decisions are made by Ukrainian officials and the military with the direct participation of American and British intelligence agencies and politicians. The US and Britain are in charge of a terrorist state structure.’
It was initially unclear how great the structural damage is to the crossing, but rail traffic resumed later on Monday morning after being halted for about six hours.
The bridge was previously attacked in October 2022.
In the latest incident one span and a support pillar ‘collapsed’, according to witnesses. Tourists were seen telling a wounded woman in a black car not to move but to wait for assistance.
The timing of the explosions was put at 03:04 and 03:20 local time.
Russia immediately blamed Ukraine’s armed forces for the explosions but it was initially unclear if the attack was by missile, kamikaze sea drone or an explosion in a vehicle crossing the structure – or who was responsible.
Initial Russian suspicions focused on marine drones.
A spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern military command, Natalia Humeniuk, said the incident on the Crimea Bridge could be an act of provocation on Moscow’s side.
‘The creation of such provocations, which the occupying authorities of Crimea report immediately very loudly, is a typical way of solving problems by authorities of Crimea and the aggressor country,’ Humeniuk told the national broadcaster Rada.
Pictures show a section of the bridge tilted and hanging down following the explosion
Parts of the bridge were destroyed in the attack which Russia has blamed on Ukraine
A section of the crossing was destroyed in the double strike, with pictures showing twisted metal barriers and debris
The strikes sparked chaos for those crossing the bridge. Drivers were seen in dash cam footage braking sharply after the explosions destroyed parts of the crossing and sent debris flying towards them at around 3am on Monday morning. Pictured: A policeman at the scene
Video from the bridge showed damage to the structure amid scenes of confusion and panic
Witnesses reported one span and a support pillar collapsed during the attack which occurred just after 3am local time. Pictured: The Crimean bridge after the strike, with the area believed to have been destroyed highlighted in yellow
Russia blamed Ukraine for an attack on the bridge last October. Ukraine admitted only indirectly to the attack months later.
Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesperson for Ukraine’s Odesa military administration, posted a photo on his Telegram account of what seemed to show part of the bridge broken. It was not immediately clear whether that was related to any attack.
After the October attack, Putin ordered the bridge repaired and even drove a Mercedes across it.
Today’s attack came as the Russian authorities had vocally encouraged people to visit the Black Sea peninsula despite it being in the war zone.
Queues of traffic immediately worsened during the night as the bridge became inoperable.
Vladimir Putin was reported to have been woken, and an emergency meeting of Russia’s security council was expected.
Ambulances were seeking to reach the location of the emergency.
Wounded people were reportedly trapped inside a vehicle on the bridge.
Sergey Aksyonov, Moscow-appointed ruler of Crimea, said: ‘Given the current situation, I ask residents and guests of the peninsula to refrain from travelling over the Crimean Bridge and, for security reasons, to choose an alternative land route through new regions.’
George Barros, an analyst at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War, said if the bridge was seriously damaged it would significantly impact Russian supply lines.
‘Russia will only have one ground supply line – the coastal highway on the Sea of Azov – to sustain (or evacuate) its tens of thousands of troops in occupied Kherson & Crimea if UKR manages to degrade/destroy the bridge,’ Barros said on Twitter.
In Monday’s attack, traffic could be seen coming to a halt as a portion of the bridge fell away
One of the damaged vehicles could be seen in footage posted to social media
An armed ship sails next to Crimean bridge connecting the Russian mainland with the peninsula across the Kerch Strait, Crimea on Monday
A view shows the Crimean bridge connecting the Russian mainland with the peninsula
Two explosions were heard on Vladimir Putin’s £3 billion 12-mile bridge, connecting annexed Crimea to Russia resulting in casualties. The same bridge was also hit in October, as pictured above
The occupation official said: ‘Traffic has been stopped on the Crimea Bridge.
‘An emergency occurred in the area of the 145th support from the Krasnodar region.
‘Law enforcement agencies and all responsible services are working.
‘I spoke with the Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation Vitaly Savelyev,. Measures are being taken to restore the situation. We keep in touch with colleagues from the Krasnodar region.’
A senior Russian politician said today that Russia should not renew the Black Sea deal that would allow the safe export of Ukrainian grain in light of the attack on the Crimean bridge.
Sergei Mironov, leader of the A Just Russia party in Russia’s parliament, said Moscow should instead respond by destroying Ukrainian infrastructure.
‘That is what we need to do, and not discuss a grain deal that helps Kyiv’s rulers and their Western masters line their pockets. There can be no grain deal after another terrorist attack,’ he said on Telegram.
Russia agreed a year ago to sign the Black Sea grain deal which allowed Ukraine to resume shipping food from its southern ports despite the war.
But it has repeatedly cast doubt on whether it will agreed to extend the arrangement, which expires on Monday.
The Kremlin has yet to comment on the Crimean Bridge incident or its possible implications for the grain deal.
The crossing links Krasnodar to Crimea over the Kerch Strait between the Black and Azov seas.
Social media postings appear to show a portion of the 12-mile bridge having entirely collapsed
Footage posted online was extremely grainy with few discernable details
Head of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov, 49, meets president Vladimir Putin
The bridge, Europe’s longest, was built by a company controlled by Putin ally Arkady Rotenberg. Putin has long lauded the project, boasting at one point that Russian Tsars and Soviet leaders had dreamed of building it but never did.
The Crimean peninsula has been a cherished vacation destination for Russians, especially after Moscow launched its invasion on Ukraine in 2022 and travelling to the West became much more difficult for Russians.
In recent weeks, traffic jams to the entrance of the bridge went for kilometres on daily basis as Russians went on holidays.
On Monday morning the traffic jam ran for kilometres before police directed vehicles away from the bridge. Social media accounts showed cars lined up on the bridge and its entrance.
Meanwhile, the train track was reopened on Monday, with video showing the first Moscow bound train from the Crimean capital Simferopol crossing past the damaged bridge.
Russian propaganda had previously claimed the Crimean bridge was impossible to attack because of 20 different kinds of security protecting it, including military dolphins
The bridge had been previously attacked in a bomb explosion in October 2022
In early July, a video from the Ukrainian defence ministry warned of the risk of attacks in Crimea.
The message stated: ‘Big plans this summer?
‘A travel advisory is in effect for certain beaches.
‘We warned you last summer to stay away from Crimea.’
There was a key Russian fear that disgruntled Wagner fighters turning against Putin could attack the bridge, said Telegram channel Ukrainian channel InformNapalm two weeks ago.
Its post stated: ‘Who is the most terrible saboteur in Russia now?
‘That’s right, Wagner PMC [Private Military Company] rebels.
‘It is possible that some attentive people passed information to the FSB that the Wagnerites are preparing to bring explosives and ammunition to Crimea, because the agreements on the part of the Kremlin have not been fully implemented.’
A girl, 14, was injured in the bridge strike, reported Baza media outlet.
She was a tourist from Stary Oskol in Belgorod region and was taken to a hospital in Krasnodar region.
She suffered body wounds, a broken nose and concussion, reported Baza.
Her parents died in the incident, said reports which had not been officially confirmed.
Later the Ministry of Transport denied structural damage to the support pillar of the bridge while admitting the roadway was damaged, reported Mash media outlet.
The pro-Russian authorities in Crimea urged people not to seek to cross the bridge.
A train from Crimea to Moscow was held on the peninsula side of the crossing, its power switched off.
Initial reports were confused over the likely cause of the strikes.
Military channels on Telegram speculated on a kamikaze marine drone.
Pro-Kremlin Readovka channel suggested ‘a missile attack was carried out on the Crimean bridge, as a result of which the 145th support pillar collapsed’.
This is one of 600 pillars on the bridge but it was initially unconfirmed that there had been a collapse.
A later Readovka report stated: ‘The Crimean bridge could have been attacked by naval drones.
‘Attacks on the Crimean bridge could have been carried out by surface UAVs.
‘This is evidenced by the nature of the damage to the support and the fact that the damage…[was] to a much shorter extent than after the first terrorist attack last autumn.
‘At the same time, air-to-ground missiles could also be used, as previously reported.
‘Most likely, the drones were delivered to the line of attack using a mother ship….’
Or ‘an enemy drone could also be launched from the territory of a third country, such as Georgia.
Kyiv ‘previously used the territory of other states to organise the first terrorist attack on the Crimean bridge.
‘According to available information, one support was damaged, one span collapsed, another partially.’
The damage was to the road, not the rail section of the crossing, reported Readovka.
Russia launched a formal criminal case into the bridge strikes.
‘A specially-created group of the most experienced investigators in the investigation of particularly important cases and forensic investigators left to conduct investigative actions in connection with the incident on the Crimean bridge,’ said a statement from the Russian Investigative Committee in occupied Crimea.
I am Rakesh Sharma, I associated with Elite News as an Editor, since 2021. I take care of all the news operations like content, budget, hiring and policy making.