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Vladimir Putin calls Crimea bridge blast a 'terrorist act' by Kyiv
9 October 2022, 21:31
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the attack on the sprawling Kerch Bridge to Crimea “a terrorist act” carried out by Ukrainian special services.
A criminal terror investigation into the explosion that damaged a prominent Russian landmark has been launched by the country’s investigative committee.
Russian authorities have said a Ukrainian truck filled with explosives was used for the attack. Other theories include a clandestine maritime drone.
The 12-mile bridge - the longest in Europe - links Russia with the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed eight years ago from Ukraine, and is a major trade route for Putin's forces.
“There’s no doubt it was a terrorist act directed at the destruction of critically important civilian infrastructure of the Russian Federation,” Putin said in a video of a meeting on Sunday
“And the authors, perpetrators, and those who ordered it are the special services of Ukraine," he added.
Chairman of Russia's investigative committee, Alexander Bastrykin said Ukrainian special services, and citizens of Russia and other countries took part in the attack.
“We have already established the route of the truck,” he said, adding it had been to Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, North Ossetia and Krasnodar — a region in southern Russia — among other places.
But Kyiv has not claimed responsibility and has suggested the attack may have been an inside job.
Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the Financial Times: “This is a concrete material manifestation of the conflict between the [intelligence services] on the one hand and the [military] on the other.”
He said the truck had been seen driving from Russia towards Crimea, adding: "The logistics of the detonation . . . all this clearly points to the Russian trail."
The statements followed overnight Russian missile strikes on the city of Zaporizhzhia that brought down part of a large apartment building, leaving at least a dozen people dead.
The six missiles used in Sunday’s overnight attack were launched from Russian-occupied areas of the Zaporizhzhia region, the Ukrainian air force said.
The region is one of four Russia claimed as its own this month, though its capital of the same name remains under Ukrainian control.
Russia has suffered a series of setbacks nearly eight months after invading Ukraine in a campaign many thought would be short-lived.
In recent weeks, Ukrainian forces have staged a counter-offensive, retaking areas in the south and east, while Moscow’s decision to call up more troops has led to protests and an exodus of tens of thousands of Russians.
Recent fighting has focused on the regions just north of Crimea, including Zaporizhzhia. Lamenting the latest attack in a Telegram post, Zelenskyy said: "Again, Zaporizhzhia. Again, merciless attacks on civilians, targeting residential buildings, in the middle of the night.”
At least 19 people died in Russian missile strikes on apartment buildings in the city on Thursday.
“From the one who gave this order, to everyone who carried out this order: They will answer,” Ukraine's embattled leader added.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called the attacks on civilians a war crime and urged an international investigation.