U.S.-made ATACMS pounding in Crimea as Russia shuts Kerch bridge

A firefighter helicopter pours water on the carriages of a train on fire on the Kerch bridge that links Crimea to Russia, after a truck exploded, near Kerch, on October 8, 2022. Traffic on the main bridge linking the Russian mainland with annexed Crimea was temporarily halted on Tuesday.

Traffic on the main bridge linking the Russian mainland with annexed Crimea was temporarily halted as Moscow said Ukraine attacked the peninsula with U.S.-supplied missiles (Army Tactical Missile System, or ATACMS) missiles.

“Vehicle traffic on the Crimean Bridge is temporarily blocked,” a Telegram channel that posts regular updates on traffic on the Kerch Strait Bridge, said at 1:25 a.m. local time. Traffic has since reopened.

The Kerch Strait Bridge serves as a key supply route for Russia’s forces. Ukraine struck the 19-kilometer (nearly 12-mile) road and rail bridge in October 2022 and again in July 2023. The bridge is crucial to sustaining Moscow’s military offensives in southern Ukraine. Kyiv has vowed future strikes on the structure as it seeks to recapture the peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014.

Vladimir Rogov, chairman of We Are Together With Russia, a pro-Russian group that operates in the Moscow-occupied Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia, as well as Russian military bloggers, said on Telegram that Ukraine had fired ATACMS at Crimea from the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson overnight on Monday.

“Tonight, militants of the Armed Forces of Ukraine launched a missile attack on the Republic of Crimea,” Rogov wrote. “Russian air defense worked over Dzhankoy and Simferopol. According to latest information, our defenders did an excellent job.”

Ukraine launched “several ATACMS ballistic missiles to attack the peaceful peninsula,” Rogov said.

“Before this, an alarm was declared on the peninsula and the Crimean Bridge was blocked,” he added. “Traffic on the bridge has now resumed.”

The SHOT Telegram channel, a Russian channel that posts updates on the war, reported that explosions were heard in the Crimean city of Simferopol, and in Dzhankoy, which houses a military airfield operated by the Russian Aerospace Forces.

Fears are growing among Russian military bloggers that Ukrainian forces are preparing to attack the Kerch Strait Bridge.

The Rybar Telegram channel, which has links to Russia’s Defense Ministry, said last week that Kyiv may have used U.S.-made ADM-160 Miniature Air-Launched Decoy (MALD) missiles to detect air defense systems and radars in preparation for another attack on the Black Sea peninsula.

The missiles, which are designed to distract and confuse enemy air defenses, are capable of mimicking a number of aircraft on radar screens.

Rybar said an attack on the Kerch Bridge could happen before Putin’s inauguration on May 7. The Russian leader secured his fifth term in office in March.

“Considering the love of the Ukrainian authorities and their curators for symbolism, the target once again may be the Crimean Bridge, the attention to which is very high,” Rybar said.

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