February 19, 2022 – The Kerch bridge connecting Russia with Crimea is the largest and most controversial bridge in Europe. This combined rail-road bridge is located in the Kerch Strait, the strait that connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The Crimean Bridge, therefore, connects the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea and the Taman Peninsula of Russia’s Krasnodar Krai, which is, as you might guess, a very important geostrategic point. The scope of the project included the construction of two parallel bridges: a 16.9 km long road bridge and an 18.1 km long railway bridge.
The announcement that Russia will build a road-railway bridge over the sea was given by Vladimir Putin on March 19th, 2014, just a day after the infamous referendum on which Crimean citizens voted to fall under Russia. After fast and efficient construction, on May 15, 2018, Vladimir Putin led a convoy of trucks across the bridge, driving one himself, in an inauguration ceremony. Of course, the construction and opening of the Crimean Bridge caused a sharply negative reaction from Ukraine, which considers this construction illegal. In addition, the United States and the European Union also condemned the construction and opening of the bridge and imposed sanctions on the companies involved in its construction.
October 8, 2022 – An explosion on the Kerch road-and-rail bridge, the sole land link between Crimea and Russia, set oil tankers ablaze and caused the collapse of two car lanes, Russian authorities said Saturday. The Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant has lost its external power connection as a result of Russian shelling and is relying on backup diesel generators, Ukraine’s state nuclear company said. Follow our liveblog for the latest news on the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT + 2).
October 8, 2022 – It’s the only road and rail link between the Crimean Peninsula and Russia: a vital artery for military supplies to its soldiers occupying the region and fighting in southern Ukraine. Who blew up part of the 12-mile Kerch bridge and how is as yet unclear. What is not in doubt is that it is another serious setback for Vladimir Putin. This report contains scenes some might find distressing.
October 8, 2022 – Surveillance footage from cameras on the Kerch bridge leading to Russian-annexed Crimea shows the moment of a large explosion on the roadway. The source of the blast is unclear, and Ukrainian officials have started responding to the fire, without directly acknowledging that Ukraine was responsible. CNN Fred Pleitgen reports.
October 8, 2022 – Petrol prices in Crimea began climbing as long queues formed at gas stations as panicked residents rushed to buy fuel after an explosion on the sole bridge linking the annexed territory with Russia.
October 9, 2022 – A large explosion heavily damaged the Kerch bridge that links Russia’s mainland with annexed Crimea, in a devastating blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war effort in Ukraine. CNN’s Fred Pleitgen reports on the aftermath.
October 9, 2022 – Light traffic has resumed on Russia’s only bridge to Crimea, following a huge blast brought down sections of the roadway. The blast on Europe’s longest bridge – a symbol of Russia’s annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 – killed three people, Russian investigators said. Russia’s foreign ministry published a video on Saturday, seemingly showing cars using the bridge. President Vladimir Putin has now ordered the country’s Federal Security Service to oversee the key connector to the occupied peninsula.
October 10, 2022 – An explosion that damaged the only bridge linking Russia to Crimea dealt a blow to the Kremlin and triggered a new escalation in the Ukraine war. WSJ examined footage of the blast and its aftermath to understand what happened.
February 17, 2023 – Repairs on the second span of the Crimean Bridge are nearly complete, and cranes are now working on the railway section.
July 17, 2023 – The Kerch Bridge linking the occupied Crimean peninsula to Russia was hit by two strikes, according to multiple reports. Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) and naval forces were responsible for the attack, according to a source.
July 17, 2023 – Two people have been killed and a child wounded in an “emergency situation” on the Russian-built bridge linking the annexed Crimean Peninsula to Russia’s Krasnodar region, according to officials. The announcement on Monday came hours after Moscow-installed officials said traffic along the bridge had been halted and media in Ukraine reported explosions along the overpass. Vyacheslav Gladkov, governor of the southern Russian region of Belgorod, said the casualties on the bridge included a couple and their daughter. Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride joins us now live from Krivyi Rhi in Ukraine to discuss the latest updates.
July 17, 2023 – Russia says at least two people are dead and a young girl injured, following a “terrorist attack” on the Kerch Bridge on July 17. Unconfirmed Ukrainian media reports claimed explosions were heard early on July 17. Russia’s Grey Zone channel, a Telegram channel affiliated with the Wagner mercenary group reported that there had been two strikes on the bridge. Russia’s Investigative Committee blamed Ukraine and said two unmanned surface vehicles had been used in the attack.
0:00 – INTRODUCTION
4:12 – WHY IS KERCH BRIDGE IMPORTANT?
5:09 – SECOND WARTIME ATTACK ON KERCH BRIDGE
July 17, 2023 – Day 509 – Today the biggest news comes from Crimea. Early in the morning, Russian sources claimed that Ukrainians conducted a massive attack on the Kerch Bridge and successfully destroyed several sections. The movement on all bridges was immediately closed, and inspectors arrived at the site for evaluation of the damage. The inspectors found out that the first lane of the road bridge was badly damaged, and the section could neither be used nor restored. The second lane’s respective section sagged and required complete replacement due to the damage, while the railroad bridge sustained mild damage. Judging by the available footage, many analysts concluded that the damage was inflicted by the explosion under the bridge, which threw the sections up in the air, causing them to slide to the sides.
The inspectors said that optimistically, the first lane will be fixed by 15th September, making the road bridge partially operable, while the second lane will be fixed by November. In the meantime, thousands of cars accumulated from both sides, causing massive traffic jams. Local authorities asked everyone to seek alternative routes and invited them to travel via the Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk regions. After yesterday’s Storm Shadow raid precisely along this alternative line, Russians became rather reluctant to get anywhere near these places. Nonetheless, the railroad bridge was opened the same day. But this is not surprising because it was clearly not the main target of this attack. The attack was reportedly conducted by at least 2 marine kamikaze drones.
Judging by the footage, Russian forces tried to shoot them down with machine guns, but the target proved to be too challenging, and the drones reached their destination. The inspectors who reportedly found the remnants of these drones on the bridge claimed that Ukrainians used regular water scooters as a base for the vessels, then removed the top and put a lot of explosives, which is why the scooter almost completely submerges under the water and is virtually invisible. Many Russian sources claim that Ukrainians launched these marine drones from Snake Island. Interestingly, several days ago, Russians conducted an airstrike on Ukrainian objects on this island, but it looks like it was unsuccessful. Russian sources published satellite footage, claiming that several hours before the explosions, 4 high-speed marine objects were seen traveling along the coast of Crimea.
Russian analysts aggressively expressed their discontent with the level of security and asked the Russian Ministry of Defense how the widely publicized 20 layers of protection could not handle several scooters. Soon, more information became available, and it turned out that at least one drone was launched from the Azov Sea. Such developments left the Russian military analysts speechless as Ukrainians do not have direct access to the Azov Sea. The most likely scenario is that a ship with marine drones was allowed to pass through, where it later deployed a kamikaze drone, suggesting that the level of security is more pitiful than expected. President Putin stated that he is already discussing with the Ministry of Defense new possible ways of improving the security of the Kerch Bridge to prevent the same thing from happening for the third time.
Ukrainian Intelligence commented on the situation, and even though they neither confirmed nor denied their involvement, they added that the Kerch Bridge was built illegally and, from their point of view, it is a redundant structure. The importance of the destruction of the Kerch Bridge is hard to overestimate – this bridge had a strategic significance for the Russian Armed Forces because it was the most established and safest supply line to the Russian southern group of forces. Even though Russians can and do deliver supplies via Mariupol and Berdyansk, since Ukrainians obtained Storm Shadow missiles, a substantial portion of these supplies has always been destroyed, further increasing dependence on the Crimean supply line. Without the Kerch Bridge, Russian forces will slowly start experiencing shortages of everything – from food to equipment, resembling what we already saw during the previous counteroffensive operations.
July 18, 2023 – Russia’s Defense Ministry has said that overnight attacks on the two port cities of Odessa and Mykolaiv were “mass revenge strikes.” The strikes came a day after an attack on the Kerch Bridge linking Russia with Crimea, which Moscow blamed on Ukraine. Military analyst Sean Bell has stressed the overnight attack on Odesa “renews the worry” that Russia is again interested in having a land bridge all across the Black Sea.
July 18, 2023 – The Crimean Bridge has been successfully struck again by the Ukrainian forces, this time with drone boats that traveled over 600 kms to hit their targets. Russia’s reaction is uncertain, as they openly fight amongst themselves that they never achieved their stated revenge objective the last time the bridge was struck. Russia has declared the Black Sea grain deal has expired and they will not allow it to continue.
August 5, 2023 – Ukrainian sea drones struck a Russian chemical tanker in the Kerch Strait early on August 5, Russian officials said. The latest attack comes just a day after a sea drone hit a Russian navy’s landing ship in the Black Sea basin. The Russian marine agency added that there were no casualties due to the sea drone attack. Two tugboats were at the scene to assist the tanker, Russia’s TASS reported, citing the Maritime Rescue Centre. Traffic on the Kerch Bridge was halted for about three hours and resumed early on August 5. Russian officials said explosions were heard near the bridge, which were linked to the attack on the tanker.
TASS reported that no fuel had been spilled from the ship, which had 11 people on board. The Moscow Times identified the vessel as the chemical tanker SIG, which is under US sanctions for supplying jet fuel. The vessel has been used to supply jet fuel to Russian forces in Syria supporting President Bashar al-Assad. Pro-Russian official Vladimir Rogov said several members of the ship’s crew were injured by broken glass in the attack. Watch this video to know why Putin is scrambling to defend his key ports in Crimea.
August 5, 2023 – The Black Sea drone attacks have changed the game in the Black Sea. Formerly, the Black Sea was dominated by Russia. Now, Ukraine seems to have created an advantage overnight because Russia will not be able to defend against seaborne drones.
August 12, 2023 – The Kerch Bridge has been hit multiple times today with after Russian air defense unsuccessfully tried to stop the incoming missiles. Russia has vowed they will respond to the destruction of the bridge, although there is not much they can do. A Russian SU-30 nosedived into the ground today, taking both pilots with it and costing Russia $40 Million. Ukrainian forces are in a battle a Kozachi Laheri as they hold the village.
August 13, 2023 – Another attempted strike on the Crimean Bridge occurred yesterday, with Ukraine choosing to test Russia’s air defense systems with their low value S-200 missiles rather than their more capable long range Storm Shadow and SCALP missiles. Russian soldiers are starting to hear from their leadership that the Kremlin is planning for three more years or war before Russia thinks they can win. Author John Sweeney has an alarming message based on what he is hearing in Kyiv from friends.
August 13, 2023 – Kerch Bridge was attacked, but perhaps not hit. Why would Ukraine waste resources? It wasn’t a waste. By firing missiles at the Kerch bridge, Ukraine gained at least three things. Hitting the Kerch bridge in Crimea would only have been icing on the cake.