British-made Storm Shadow missiles destroyed Chonhar road bridge linking Kherson to Crimea

Damage to a bridge near the village of Chongar in the Kherson region of Ukraine on Thursday.Alexander Polegenko / Zuma Press

Ukraine struck and damaged the Chonhar road bridge linking Kherson to Crimea and a smaller bridge linking the town of Henichesk with the peninsula’s northeast coast on Sunday, Moscow-appointed officials and Ukraine’s armed forces said.

The Russian-appointed acting head of Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo, says the missiles that hit two bridges in Crimea Sunday were all Storm Shadows, an air-launched long-range missile supplied to Ukraine by the UK.

“The enemy launched a missile strike in the area of the Chonhar bridge in the north of Crimea,” Sergei Aksyonov, the Moscow-appointed head of Crimea, wrote on Telegram. “One hit, part of the missile was hit by air defense.” The road surface was damaged, traffic diverted and repairs had begun, he said.

Acting Kherson regional governor Vladimir Saldo — another Moscow appointee — said without providing evidence that the strike on the Chonhar bridge, one of three road links between Crimea and mainland Ukraine, involved an Anglo-French Storm Shadow missile.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine Strategic Communications Directorate said the strike damaged the road surface of the bridge, which lies on a route used by the Russian military to move between Crimea and other parts of Ukraine under its control. Ukraine struck the same bridge in June.

The directorate said Ukrainian strikes had also left the smaller Henichesk bridge sagging but provided no further details. Reuters could not immediately verify the condition of either bridge or the munitions used.

A picture shared to social media channels shows the Chonhar railway bridge that connects Russian-controlled Crimea and Ukraine’s Kherson region. Ukraine’s military said it carried out a successful strike on the bridge in the early hours of July 29. Courtesy of @bayraktar_1love

Saldo said Ukrainian shelling wounded a civilian driver and damaged a gas pipeline running alongside the bridge serving Henichesk, the temporary administrative center of the Russian-controlled part of the Kherson region, leaving more than 20,000 people without gas. He said a village school was also damaged.

The attacks are making it increasingly hard to get on and off the peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014 and which is of military importance to Moscow as well as a popular tourist destination for Russians.

On July 17, an attack attributed by Ukrainian media to Ukrainian sea drones damaged the Russian-built Crimean Bridge, which links the peninsula eastward to southern Russia, for the second time in less than a year, severely restricting road traffic during the summer holiday season.

In the early hours of Saturday, a Ukrainian sea drone full of explosives damaged a Russian fuel tanker near the Crimean Bridge, the second such attack in 24 hours.

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