A strategic bridge that connects mainland Russia with the Crimean peninsular was severely damaged in an explosion on Saturday morning (on or about 0600 Moscow time), October 8, 2022. The southbound road lane traveling from Russia to Crimea has been blown up. Currently, all traffic is closed on the bridge. When it reopens, the flow will be constricted, hindering Russia’s war effort. The bridge is also known as the Crimean Bridge and the Kerch Strait Bridge.
Initial reports include speculation on how the explosion took place. Some reports indicate it was a missile or drone struck, some a truck bomb, while others say that Ukrainian special operations sappers conducted the operation. Several fuel cars of a passing railway train also were destroyed, resulting in a huge fire. The passing of the railway train at the same time that the explosion occurred has led to some interesting speculation. View Russian security camera footage of the Kerch Strait Bridge explosion (Twitter, 8 Oct 2022, @mrsorokaa)
Map: Kerch Strait MarineTraffic.com, 2018
Crimea was taken by the Russians from Ukraine in 2014 and, up until 2022, this 12-mile long bridge was the lifeline to Russia and a vital supply line for its military operations in Ukraine. The bridge has certainly been on Ukraine’s target list since February 2022, if not before that. This is another humiliating setback for the Russians; following successful Ukrainian counteroffensives in the northeast, east, and south. The Russians do have a land corridor (M14 highway) connecting Russia to Crimea through the recently captured and occupied land along the west coast of the Sea of Azov.
The Russians have taken extensive preparations in the defense of the bridge. This includes the stationing of S-400 surface to air missile regiments, security cameras, combat swimmers, special Naval boats, and more. The graphic above from an article in a Russian publication details the defensive efforts to keep the bridge intact. Read more in “Promise to strike? But who will! How is the Crimean bridge protected”, Komsolskaya Pravda, May 8, 2022.
At one time the Kerch Strait was a strategic waterway for Ukraine. Maritime traffic would flow, under the bridge, and visit the various ports on the Ukrainian coastline located on the west edge of the Sea of Azov. The bridge was opened in 2018 and is considered the longest bridge in Europe (12 miles or 18 kilometers).
This latest event is an embarrassing episode in the Russian invasion and occupation of eastern Ukraine. The Russian’s have suffered several setbacks in recent months. The building of the bridge, which cost almost $4 billion, was a source of pride for Russia and solidified its annexation of Crimea.
Photo: Kerch Strait Bridge, courtesy of the Federal Road Agency of the Russian Federation (Rosavtodor), 13 September 2019.
Map: Kerch Strait Nov 2018 (MarineTraffic.com)
Video: “Crimea Bridge Attack: How Russia Has Been Security Putin’s Prized Kerch Bridge Against Strikes”, CRUX YouTube, August 24, 2022. This online video provides a detailed examination of how the Kerch Strait Bridge could be destroyed and the strategic importance of the bridge.