Drone attack in Crimea prompts evacuation, brief bridge closure

The Kerch Bridge that links Crimea to Russia, taken on Oct. 14, 2022.

Stringer | Afp | Getty Images

A drone attack on an ammunition depot in Crimea prompted authorities to evacuate everyone in a five-km (3.1-mile) radius and briefly suspend road traffic on the bridge linking the peninsula to Russia, the Moscow-installed regional governor said on Saturday.

Sergei Aksyonov said there was an explosion at the depot in Krasnohvardiiske in central Crimea but reported no damage or casualties. Footage shared by state media showed a thick cloud of grey smoke at the site.

Aksyonov blamed it on a Ukrainian drone attack. There was no immediate comment from Kyiv.

Russia seized and annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, eight years before launching its full-scale invasion of the country.

The brief halting of traffic on the Crimean Bridge, about 180 km (110 miles) to the east of the drone incident, came five days after explosions there killed two people and damaged a section of roadway – the second major attack on the bridge since the start of the war.

The 19-km (12-mile) road and rail bridge is a vital logistics link for Russian forces, and is also heavily used by Russian tourists who flock to Crimea in summer.

Russia accuses Ukraine of carrying out the attacks on the bridge. Officials in Kyiv have welcomed them, without directly claiming responsibility.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday that the bridge was a legitimate target because it was a military supply route for Russia.

“This is the route used to feed the war with ammunition and this is being done on a daily basis,” he said.

Russia is on high alert for incidents at the bridge, and an official Telegram channel tells people not to panic in the event of an alarm.

In a further sign of security concerns in Crimea, Oleg Kryuchkov, an adviser to Aksyonov, warned people not to post images of critical infrastructure on the internet.

He urged people who knew the authors of such posts to report them to the interior ministry or the FSB security service.

“Remember that a video posted on the web of military or other critical facilities is work for the enemy,” he said.

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