An explosion on the Kerch Bridge, which connects Crimea to Russia and is vital to the Kremlin’s military operations in Ukraine, caused it to partially collapse on Saturday.
Three people died, the Associated Press reported. No one has taken responsibility for the attack, although Ukraine has threatened to attack the bridge in the past.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a cryptic comment during a video address that many took to be commenting on the clouds of smoke and fire from the explosion.
“Today was a good and mostly sunny day on the territory of our state," Zelensky said. "Unfortunately, it was cloudy in Crimea. Although it is also warm.”
The Kerch Bridge, the longest in Europe, was opened by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2018. Spanning 12 miles, it symbolized Putin annexing the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
The bridge's destruction comes less than two weeks after Putin annexed four regions in Ukraine — Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, and Donetsk — following a referendum widely denounced as rigged by Ukraine and the West. With fighting intensifying in southern Ukraine, the bridge was crucial for the Kremlin to access war supplies.
Videos from the explosion, taken on security cameras, show flashes of light and fire. A fire broke out and traffic was suspended.
The explosion came from a truck bomb, AP reported, citing Russia’s National Antiterrorism Committee. That caused seven railway cars carrying fuel to catch fire.
An adviser to Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyak, tweeted about the bridge explosion. "Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled," he wrote.
Following the collapse, Putin immediately attempted to tighten security on the bridge, and some rail travel over it has resumed.