Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday called the explosion on the Kerch Bridge that connects the Crimean peninsula to mainland Russia a “terrorist act” on civilian infrastructure carried out by the Ukrainian government’s special services.
“This is a terrorist act aimed at destroying the critical civilian infrastructure of the Russian Federation. It was ordered, authored, and carried out by the special services of Ukraine,” Putin said, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.
Early on Saturday, a truck exploded on the Kerch Bridge, collapsing parts of the bridge’s road section and setting a train on fire. At least three people were killed in the blast, and traffic was temporarily halted, although it resumed by Sunday. It’s not clear if the driver of the truck, who appeared to have died, was aware that there was a bomb inside the vehicle.
Ukraine hasn’t officially taken credit for the incident, but an unnamed senior Ukrainian official told The New York Times that it was carried out by Ukraine’s intelligence services using a bomb loaded onto a truck. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of a government ban on discussing the blast. While not officially taking credit, Ukrainian officials celebrated the attack.
The Kerch Bridge was built after Crimea joined Russia in 2014 and was completed in 2018. It is seen as a symbol of Russia’s control over the peninsula, which Ukraine still considers its territory.
Putin made his comments during a meeting with Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee. Bastrykin said that he had established the route of the truck and that it traveled in Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, North Ossetia, and the southern Russian oblast of Krasnodar. He said that “citizens of Russia and foreign countries” also helped Ukraine carry out the attack.
The US has been quiet about the attack on the bridge, and the White House declined to comment on the incident. “We don’t really have anything more to add to the reports about the explosion on the bridge,” said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.
Kirby added that the US would continue to arm Ukraine. The US has made clear that it supports Ukrainian attacks on Crimea despite the risk of provoking Moscow, something the Pentagon reiterated last week.
“We think they can reach the vast majority of targets, including Crimea,” said Laura Cooper, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, referring to arms the US has provided Ukraine. “And just to be clear, Crimea is Ukraine.”