Russia claims that the Crimea Bridge was attacked with missiles.
According to Moscow, a pair of Ukrainian missiles have struck a bridge connecting Russia to the annexed Crimean peninsula. Videos circulating on social media depict plumes of smoke rising in the vicinity of the Kerch Bridge.
Russia’s defense ministry stated that S-200 missiles were employed, and though they were shot down, no damage was inflicted. Ukraine has not provided any response to the reported incident.
This isn’t the first time the bridge has been targeted – there have been at least two other attacks in recent months. Opened in 2018, the Kerch Bridge facilitates road and rail travel between Russia and Crimea, a Ukrainian territory annexed by Russia in 2014.
It serves as a crucial resupply route for Russian forces present in parts of southern Ukraine.
The Russian defense ministry noted that the alleged attack took place on Saturday around 13:00 (10:00 GMT), identifying the S-200 missiles as the weaponry used.
These Cold War-era, guided surface-to-air weapons were initially designed for taking down enemy aircraft, but they appear to have been adapted for ground-attack purposes.
The country’s foreign ministry meanwhile said that “such barbaric actions… will not go unanswered”.
Crimea’s Russia-appointed governor Sergei Aksyonov later said that a third rocket had been shot down over the Kerch Strait.
Earlier on Saturday, Russia said it had shot down 20 Ukrainian drones near the peninsula.
An adviser to Mr. Aksyonov said that traffic was halted and the smoke was an intentional “screen” generated by the military.
While Kyiv has not confirmed the attack, nor the weapons used, it would be the latest in a number of Ukrainian attempts to damage the bridge.
Last month, the Ukrainian website Euromaidan Press claimed that converted S-200 missiles had been used to attack the bridge as well as two military targets in Russia’s Rostov and Bryansk Oblasts.
Also last month, two people died and another was injured when the bridge was struck by explosions.
Kyiv did not officially confirm it carried out the attack, but a source in its security service told BBC Russian it was behind it and that water-based drones had been used.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said afterward that the bridge was a legitimate military target that supplied Russia’s war effort “with ammunition on a daily basis”.
“Understandably, this is a target for us. And a target that is bringing war, not peace, has to be neutralized,” he added.
An explosion on the bridge in October still remains a mystery.
Footage from the time showed a huge fireball erupting as a number of cars and lorries made their way across the bridge.
The bridge was partially closed and only fully reopened in February.
Kyiv has repeatedly said it plans to retake Crimea and all territories seized by Russia since it launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
An apparent increase in military operations around the bridge comes as Kyiv presses its summer offensive against Russian forces in Ukraine’s east.
Mr. Zelensky has conceded that advances have been “slower than desired” as his Western-equipped forces face Russia’s well-prepared defensive lines.
Moscow has also blamed Ukraine for a series of drone attacks on Moscow, including strikes on the Kremlin and a tower block housing government ministries.
While not officially confirming they were Ukrainian operations, Mr. Zelensky said that “gradually, the war is returning to the territory of Russia … this is an inevitable, natural, and absolutely fair process.”
Meanwhile, Russia continues to attack civilian targets in Ukraine, including deadly missile strikes that destroyed a blood transfusion center in Kharkiv and a residential area in Zaporizhzhia in the last week.