Ukraine strikes Chonhar bridge to Crimea, says Russia
Ukraine has attacked a bridge linking southern Ukraine to the Crimean peninsula with long-range British missiles, Russian officials say.
The two equal Chonhar spans were both damaged but no one was hurt, said the Russian-installed governor in occupied Kherson Vladimir Saldo.
He said it was likely British Storm Shadow missiles were utilized in an attack “ordered by London”.
The bridge is the shortest route from Crimea to the front line in the south.
It is also an important link to the occupied city of Melitopol, which lies on the coastal route from the Russian border across southern Ukraine to Crimea.
Photos posted by Vladimir Saldo showed a gaping hole in one of the two bridges, but he said repairs would be made quickly and vehicles would take an alternative route temporarily.
Russia uses the road as a land bridge to Crimea and Melitopol is thought to be one of the targets of Ukraine’s counter-offensive, which began in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia earlier this month.
Russian forces seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and then in February last year they invaded Ukraine’s southern coastal region too.
Last autumn Ukraine recaptured the Kherson region north of the Dnipro River. The Kakhovka dam on the river was destroyed this month in a suspected Russian sabotage attack which has made a Ukrainian offensive across the Dnipro much harder.
Ukraine’s offensive has made slow progress, claiming the recapture of eight villages so far.
Russian forces have continued to target Ukrainian cities including a residential area of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s home city of Kryvyih Rih and the southern port of Odesa overnight.
President Zelensky told Ukrainians on Thursday that intelligence services had received information that Russia was preparing the “scenario of a terrorist attack” on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, seized during the full-scale invasion last year.
The plant is the biggest in Europe and Mr. Zelensky warned that “radiation has no state borders”. The Kremlin immediately rejected his comments as “another lie”.
Although the plant’s six reactors have all been shut down, the UN’s atomic energy agency warned on Wednesday that the safety and security situation there was “extremely fragile”.
Water levels in a channel used to cool the reactors have declined since the Kakhovka dam was destroyed and the UN agency said the situation around the plant had become increasingly tense amid reports of Ukraine’s counter-offensive.