Recorded and released on October 8, 2022, this video shows thick black smoke billowing from a fire on the Kerch Bridge, which connects Crimea to Russia.
– | AFP | Getty Images
Russian authorities reported on Saturday that a major fire broke out on the only bridge connecting mainland Russia with the occupied Crimea peninsula.
Russian state-backed media quoted the National Counter-Terrorism Committee as saying that a truck exploded on the road side of the Kerch Bridge at 6:07 a.m. local time before the road partially collapsed.
The fire reportedly set ablaze seven oil tankers being transported to Crimea by rail, with thick black smoke billowing into the sky.
The Kerch Bridge, sometimes called the Crimean Bridge, is one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s prestige projects. It was built on his orders shortly after the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 to support Moscow’s claims to the territory.
A symbol of hatred for Ukrainians, the 19-kilometer crossing consists of two road and rail bridges spanning the Kerch Strait, used by Russia to transport military equipment to Ukraine.
A screenshot from surveillance video shows flames and smoke billowing after an explosion at the Kerch Bridge in Crimea’s Kerch Strait, October 8, 2022.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
The reported truck blast comes a day after Putin’s 70th birthday and at a time when the months-long Kremlin invasion of Ukraine has suffered a series of humiliating setbacks in recent weeks.
Images and videos shared on social media appeared to show the extent of the fire and damage.
CNBC has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of these reports and images.
“Crimea, the bridge, the beginning”
The head of the Russian-installed Crimean regional parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, blamed the incident on “Ukrainian vandals who finally managed to reach the Crimean bridge with their bloodied hands,” according to the BBC.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said the damage was “the beginning,” although he did not claim Kyiv was responsible.
“Crimea, the bridge, the beginning. Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled,” Podolyak said via Twitter.
The official Ukrainian government Twitter account, meanwhile, appeared to respond to the incident by saying, “Sick burn.”
People pose for photos in front of an image of a postage stamp showing an artist’s impression of the burning Kerch Bridge October 8, 2022 in central Kyiv, Ukraine.
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Russian media reported that traffic had been halted due to the incident and rescue and road maintenance workers were working at the site to contain the fire.
“According to preliminary information, a fuel tank is on fire … Passable arches were not damaged. It is too early to talk about causes and consequences. Work to extinguish the fire is underway,” said Oleg Kryuchko, an adviser to the Russian Das said the Crimean occupation chief, according to the TASS news agency by telegram.
The incident came hours after Russia concentrated its latest barrage of attacks on areas of Ukraine it illegally annexed.
In what the West has dubbed sham referendums late last month, Putin declared “four new regions of Russia” when Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson regions.
Kyiv has said it will not stop fighting until it has regained every inch of the land lost to Russia.
Meanwhile, Moscow has claimed it has “the right” to use nuclear weapons to defend its territory and citizens when it feels there is an existential threat, or even when attacked with conventional weapons.
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