Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukraine for Saturday’s attack on a vital bridge linking Russia and Crimea, calling the strike an “act of terror” and claiming it was carried out by “Ukrainian special services”.
“There is no doubt. This is an act of terrorism aimed at destroying critically important civilian infrastructure,” Putin said in a video released on the Kremlin’s Telegram channel.
“This was devised, carried out and ordered by the Ukrainian special services.”
Whilst Ukrainian officials had expressed pleasure at the explosion on the bridge over the Kerch strait, they had stopped short of admitting responsibility for the attack.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, denied the Russian accusations.
He wrote that there is “only one terrorist state here” and that the “whole world knows who it is”.
“Does Putin accuse Ukraine of terrorism? It looks too cynical even for Russia,” Podolyak added.
Russian authorities partially re-opened the vehicle section of the bridge with reduced traffic flow in the hours after the attack, and later restored rail services over the bridge.
The 12-mile bridge, opened by Putin in 2018 and the longest in Europe, is an essential supply route for Russian forces fighting in Ukraine.
Russia has used the bridge to move military equipment, ammunition, and personnel to battlefields in southern Ukraine. It is also serves the port of Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea fleet is based.