Thousands of Russians are fleeing Crimea after an attack on the Kerch Bridge and the black sea fleet in the Crimean peninsula, according to a report by Pravda News.
A couple was killed and their daughter was injured in the attack on the Kerch Strait bridge which resulted in the collapse of a span of its roadway. It marked the second attack on the strategically vital bridge since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Russia blamed Ukraine for Monday’s attack, and an explosion on the bridge and the black sea fleet HQ. Kyiv hasn’t claimed responsibility for the incident, but Ukrainian media outlet Ukrainska Pravda cited an unnamed source in Ukraine’s Security Service as saying that the attack was a special operation by the Security Service of Ukraine and naval forces.
Tourists and residents are leaving the Black Sea peninsula—which was illegally annexed by Putin in 2014—en masse, with traffic stretching for miles, the Russian-language service of The Moscow Times reported, noting that according to Google Maps, the size of a traffic jam at 2 p.m. Moscow time exceeded 9 kilometers (5.5 miles).
The attack halted road traffic on the Kerch bridge. Russian authorities have advised people seeking to leave Crimea quickly to take roads through Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine, which would likely add hundreds of miles to the journey of travelers returning to Russia.
After annexing Crimea, Russia injected billions of dollars to revamp infrastructure in the peninsula that has long been a popular vacation spot for Russians. The Moscow Times quoted the National Hospitality Industry Union as saying there are at least 50,000 tourists on the peninsula.
A Russian state-run news agency posted a video of a traffic jam from Crimea in the direction of Russian-occupied Melitopol, reporting that lines were 5 kilometers (3 miles) long.
The attack came more than a month into Ukraine’s counteroffensive seeking to recapture its occupied territories. Last summer, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pledged to reverse Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
A yellow terrorist threat level has been in place in parts of Crimea since April 11, 2022, weeks after Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began. Russian forces have been fortifying the peninsula amid fears of a Ukrainian advance.
Tamila Tasheva, Zelensky’s top representative for Crimea, said on national television in April that thousands of Russians were fleeing the peninsula and abandoning their properties due to anxiety about the prospects of a Ukrainian effort to recapture the region.
Tasheva has said that some 500,000 to 800,000 Russians are currently living illegally in Crimea, and could be forcibly deported in accordance with the norms of Ukrainian legislation and international law should Ukraine recapture the peninsula.
The Kerch Bridge, also known as the Crimean Bridge, was built by Russia after it invaded and de-facto annexed the peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. The 12-mile bridge, which includes a separate roadway and railway, spans the Kerch Strait and connects Crimea with mainland Russia. The construction was announced in 2014 and completed in 2018. The bridge holds great symbolic importance for the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin celebrated the opening of the bridge by driving a Kamaz truck from Kerch to Crimea and telling workers they had performed “a miracle”.
Early reports suggest the attack was done through several unmanned, explosive-carrying amphibious vehicles, or sea drones, that were directed to the bridge and then detonated from beneath the roadway. Russia has blamed the attack on Ukraine, with the national anti-terrorist committee, a security services agency, saying: “Two Ukrainian unmanned underwater vehicles carried out an attack on the Crimean Bridge.”
© 2023, GDC. © GDC and www.globaldefensecorp.com. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to www.globaldefensecorp.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.