Ukraine strikes key bridge between mainland, Crimea

A view shows the damaged Chonhar bridge connecting Russian-held parts of Ukraine's Kherson region to the Crimean peninsula, following what Russian-appointed officials say was a Ukrainian missile attack, in this picture released June 22, 2023. Russian-installed leader of the Kherson region Vladimir Saldo via Telegram/Handout via REUTERS

Ukrainian missiles struck the Chonhar road bridge connecting Crimea with Russian-held parts of the southern Kherson region overnight, forcing traffic to be diverted to a different route, Russian-appointed officials said on Thursday.

The so-called “gate to Crimea”, known by Russians with a different spelling as the Chongar Bridge, is one of a handful of links between Crimea – which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014 – and mainland Ukraine.

It is on a route used by the Russian military to move between Crimea and other parts of Ukraine under its control.

There was no immediate comment from Kyiv, which has said it wants to retake Crimea and drive all Russian forces from its territory.

Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-appointed governor of Kherson, parts of which Russian forces have captured during what Moscow calls its “special military operation”, said the road bridge had been damaged but that there were no casualties.

One picture Saldo posted on Telegram showed a large hole in the bridge’s surface with water visible beneath it and debris scattered nearby. Saldo said initial information suggested Ukraine was likely to have used British-supplied Storm Shadow missiles for the strike.

“The Kyiv terrorists want to intimidate Kherson residents and sow panic among the population, but they will not succeed. We know how to repair bridges quickly: vehicle passage will be restored in the very near future,” he said.

“We have an answer to every move by the enemy. A link between the Kherson region and Crimea continues to operate – a reserve route has been temporarily organised for vehicular traffic.”

Sergey Aksyonov, Crimea’s Russian-appointed governor, told people to stay calm and said specialists were examining the site to determine when traffic over the bridge could resume.


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