Attack attributed to Ukraine naval drones damages key Russian bridge to occupied Crimea

Russia halted automobile traffic on the Kerch Strait bridge, a vital and heavily symbolic transportation and military supply conduit from Russia to occupied Crimea, early Monday after an attack it blamed on Ukraine. Video and photographs verified by The New York Times show damage to both directions of the road bridge, with the side leading from Crimea to Russia more seriously damaged. Rail service across the bridge was restored Monday morning.

A Russian-appointed official said there were two explosions, at 3:04 a.m. and 3:20 a.m., that collapsed one span of the bridge and damaged a second. The damage was attributed to Ukrainian maritime drones that broke through the defenses installed to prevent such an attack. Russian officials said a couple was killed and their daughter wounded, evidently as they were driving over the bridge in the early pre-dawn hours. Russia called it a terrorist attack.

Ukraine, which only recently claimed responsibility for truck bomb on the 12-mile bridge last October that closed one lane for four months, did not openly say it was behind on Monday's attack. But unidentified members of Ukraine's security service told CNN and BBC News that the damage to the bridge was a joint operation with Ukraine's naval forces.

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Russia built the Kerch Strait bridge in 2018 at a cost of $3.6 billion after illegally annexing Crimea in 2014, and the Russia military uses the rail and roadways to supply occupation forces fighting in southern Ukraine and Russia's Black Sea naval base in Crimea. If the roadways remain closed, Russia will have to move some of its supply lines to riskier land routes in occupied southern Ukraine.

July is also high tourist season in Crimea, "a popular destination for Russian travelers looking for a bargain beach destination," the Times notes. Occupation authorities told Russian tourists they will also have to travel home by land routes.

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.