Putin accused Ukraine of a “terrorist act” in the explosion of the Kerch bridge
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday accused Ukraine of committing a “terrorist act” in the fiery explosion a day earlier that damaged a strategic bridge linking Crimea with Russia.
“There is no doubt that this was a terrorist act aimed at destroying critical civilian infrastructure of the Russian Federation,” Putin said during a meeting with the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, according to media reports.
“It was invented, carried out and ordered by the Ukrainian special services,” Putin said.
Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the explosion that damaged the Kerch bridge, a humiliating blow to Putin’s prestige. But Ukrainian officials celebrated the explosion on social media, and it became a major morale booster for Ukraine’s war effort.
Putin met withBastrykin to discuss the results of the investigation into the massive explosion and fire at the 19-kilometer-long Crimean bridge, which the Russian president personally opened with great fanfare in 2018 after Moscow seized the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. Russian divers began exploring the bridge to determine the cause of the blast earlier on Sunday.
A criminal investigation into the attack on the bridge has been launched, Bastrykin said.
After Saturday’s explosion, Putin tightened security measures on the bridge and energy infrastructure between Russia and Crimea. He called a meeting of his national security council for Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state news agency TASS on Sunday.
The adviser to the Ukrainian president Mykhailo Podoliak called Putin’s accusation “too cynical even for Russia” in a tweet.
Putin accuses Ukraine of terrorism? he said. “Not even 24 hours have passed since Russian jets fired 12 missiles at a residential area of Zaporozhye, killing 13 people and injuring more than 50. No, there is only one state terrorist and the whole world knows who he is.”Podoliak said.
The damage to the Kerch bridge, a key symbol of Putin’s claims over the Crimean peninsula, threatened a key route for Russian military supplies to support its forces in southern Ukraine. It came as Ukrainian advances continue to retake occupied territories from Moscow’s forces.