Russia thwarts Ukrainian attacks on Crimean peninsula

Published August 13, 2023
A view through a train window shows the section of a road split and sloping to one side following an alleged attack on the Crimea Bridge, that connects the Russian mainland with the Crimean peninsula across the Kerch Strait, in this still image from video taken July 17, 2023. — REUTERS
A view through a train window shows the section of a road split and sloping to one side following an alleged attack on the Crimea Bridge, that connects the Russian mainland with the Crimean peninsula across the Kerch Strait, in this still image from video taken July 17, 2023. — REUTERS

MOSCOW: Ukrainian forces targeted the Crimean Bridge and a number of other unspecified targets on the Crimean peninsula on Saturday in a flurry of rocket and drone attacks, but there were no casualties or damage, Russia’s Defence Ministry said.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry vowed retaliation for what it called a “terrorist attack” on the bridge in Crimea, which Moscow forcibly annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said Ukraine had unsuccessfully tried to strike the bridge across the Kerch Strait with S-200 rockets, forcing its temporary closure to traffic. A fresh attack on Saturday afternoon again shut down the bridge.

The 19-km bridge, which links Russian-annexed Crimea to Russia, has come under repeated attack from Ukrainian forces since Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022.

Footage circulating on social media showed 19-km Crimean bridge wreathed in smoke

“The Ukrainian missile was detected in a timely manner and was intercepted in the air by Russian air defence systems. No damage or casualties were reported,” the Defence Ministry said.

In a statement posted earlier on the Telegram messaging app, Russian-installed Crimea governor Sergei Aksyonov said two rockets had been downed by anti-aircraft defences near the bridge. He also said the bridge was undamaged.

Aksyonov later reported a third unsuccessful rocket attack on the bridge. “Thank you to our air defence forces for a high level of professionalism and vigilance,” he wrote on Telegram. Footage circulating on Russian social media on Saturday appeared to show the bridge wreathed in smoke.

Ukraine almost never publicly claims responsibility for such attacks but has said destroying Russia’s military infrastructure is crucial for its counteroffensive.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned the latest attacks on the bridge, saying they posed a danger to innocent lives and civilian infrastructure. “There can be no justification for such barbaric actions and they will not go unanswered,” she wrote on Telegram.Separately, Russian forces destroyed 20 Ukrainian drones launched onto the Crimean Peninsula earlier on Saturday, Russia’s Defence Ministry said.

There were no casualties and no damage as a result of the drone attacks, the ministry said on Telegram. It said 14 drones were destroyed by air defence systems and six were suppressed by electronic warfare.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2023

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