The Only Physical Link Between Crimea and Russia

In 2014 Vladimir Putin’s government illegally annexed Crimea as part of Russia. By 2018 he had built the longest bridge in Europe to physically connect the two land masses. This was a solid symbol of Russian domination. A $3.7 billion USD symbol. To make matters even clearer, Putin personally drove one of the first trucks over the structure the day it was opened. It’s like a dog peeing on something to claim ownership.

The bridge, of course, is of enormous practical importance. It plays a critical role in getting supplies from Russia, through Crimea, to Russian troops fighting in the Kherson region of Ukraine.

Putin in the cab of a truck preparing to drive over the Crimean Bridge
Russian President Vladimir Putin prepares to buckle up to drive one of the first trucks across the Crimean Bridge in 2018. Screenshot from YouTube and Wall Street Journal

On October 8th, at about 0600 local time, an enormous explosion severely damaged the Crimea (or, as it is sometimes called, Kerch) Bridge. Because of its strategic importance, the bridge is one of the most secure structures in the world. Security cameras cover almost every inch.

Please watch the footage below made available through Twitter and Russian Media Monitor. Carefully watch the truck in the right-hand lane toward the center of your screen. Many believe it is the main cause of the damage. At the 0:17 mark, it seems to vaporize, causing a huge fireball severely damaging rail cars on the adjacent railway. Coincidentally, all seven of them were full of fuel.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) reports that an initial bomb damage assessment shows one lane of the road bridge to be collapsed and damage to the nearby railway track. The Russian Investigative Committee quickly surveyed the damage, and they concluded that a truck had exploded on the bridge and ignited the fuel-laden railway cars. Almost immediately, though, Russia sent divers to examine the structural integrity of the bridge supports underwater.