Vladimir Putin says Ukraine to blame for Crimea bridge explosion

Powerful explosion was planned and carried out by Ukrainian special services, says Mr Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Alexander Bastrykin, head of the Investigative Committee of Russia, in St  Petersburg on Sunday. EPA / Sputnik / Kremlin Pool
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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday called the explosion that damaged a bridge linking Russia and Crimea an "act of terrorism" and said Ukraine was responsible.

"There is no doubt. This is an act of terrorism aimed at destroying critically important civilian infrastructure," Mr Putin said in a video on the Kremlin's Telegram channel.

"This was devised, carried out and ordered by the Ukrainian special services."

He was meeting Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia's Investigative Committee, who was presenting findings of an inquiry into Saturday's explosion and fire on the bridge.

The blast on the bridge over the Kerch Strait, a key supply route for Moscow's forces in southern Ukraine, prompted gleeful messages from Ukrainian officials on Saturday but no claim of responsibility.

The bridge is also a major artery for the port of Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea fleet is based.

A fire on Kerch bridge in Crimea - in pictures

The damage to the bridge, which had been an imposing symbol of Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, came amid battlefield defeats for Russia, and could further cloud Kremlin insistence that the war is going to plan.

Rail services and partial road traffic resumed a day after the blast. Images showed a half section of the bridge's roadway blown away, with the other half still attached.

Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and the 19-kilometre bridge linking the region to its transport network was opened with great fanfare four years later by Mr Putin.

Russia says lorry bomb damaged crucial Kerch bridge to Crimea - video

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin said divers would start work on Sunday examining damage to the bridge, with a more detailed survey above the waterline expected to be complete by the end of the day, domestic news agencies reported.

Russia's Transport Ministry said freight trains and long-distance passenger services across the bridge were running on schedule on Sunday. Limited road traffic resumed on Saturday about 10 hours after the blast.

"The situation is manageable — it's unpleasant but not fatal," said Crimea's Russian Governor, Sergei Aksyonov.

"Of course, emotions have been triggered and there is a healthy desire to seek revenge."

Updated: October 10, 2022, 4:02 AM