The key Crimean bridge linking the occupied peninsula to Russia was hit by two strikes early Monday, according to multiple reports. Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) and naval forces were responsible for the attack, according to a source.
The Kerch Bridge is strategically important because it links Russia’s Krasnodar region with the Crimean Peninsula, which was illegally annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.
It also has huge symbolic importance for Russia, which built the 12-mile bridge — the longest in Europe — at a cost of around $3.7 billion. It was the physical expression of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s objective to take over Ukraine and bind it to Russia forever.
The day it opened, Putin led a triumphant convoy over the bridge. Ukrainians revile the structure, which stands as a reminder of Russian occupation.
In October, the bridge was partially destroyed when a fuel tanker exploded and damaged a large section of the road. The Kremlin was quick to blame Kyiv and Putin alleged that it was an act of “sabotage” by Ukrainian security services. Moscow was quick to repair the bridge following that explosion.
The bridge is a critical artery for supplying Crimea with both its daily needs and supplies for the military, in addition to fuel and goods for civilians. Russian military convoys have regularly used the bridge to aid their full-scale invasion of Ukraine — carrying vehicles, armor and fuel.
If the Russian military’s use of the bridge is hampered, its supply lines to forces in southern Ukraine would become more tenuous.
Russia has used the Crimean railroads to ferry supplies to forces in Kherson and several rail hubs in both Crimea and Kherson have been attacked by long-range Ukrainian rockets. Rail traffic across the bridge continued to operate on Monday, albeit with delays, according to video on social media, a Russian official and Russian state media.