Traffic Halted: Tensions Rise at Kerch Bridge Amidst Crimea Bridge Closure

Crimea Mystery as Bridge Closed Again

For the second consecutive night, authorities in Crimea, backed by Moscow, have halted traffic on the bridge connecting the peninsula to Russia.

The decision to block traffic was implemented in the early hours of Monday following reports of explosions near the Crimean port city of Feodosia, approximately 60 miles away from the bridge. This action, orchestrated by Russia’s proxy authorities, occurred after the bridge had been closed the previous day.

The Kerch Bridge, stretching over 11 miles, serves as a crucial link between Russia’s Krasnodar region and the annexed peninsula, Crimea, which Vladimir Putin controversially seized in 2014. Throughout the duration of Putin’s incursion into Ukraine, Kyiv has repeatedly targeted the bridge, often utilizing missiles supplied by Western sources, thereby disrupting the supply route for Russia’s military forces.

Notably, an image captured on July 17, 2023, depicted a Russian warship navigating near the Kerch Bridge, underscoring the strategic significance of this structure. The recent closure of traffic on March 4, 2024, marked the second consecutive night of disruption.

Kerch Bridge
Kerch Bridge (Credits: Reuters)

The Telegram channel Crimean Bridge, known for disseminating real-time updates about the bridge’s operations, initially reported smooth traffic flow on Sunday evening. However, around 12:30 a.m. on Monday, the channel announced the cessation of traffic, urging those on the bridge and in the inspection area to remain calm and comply with the directives of transport security personnel.

During the closure, a queue of 79 vehicles formed on the Krasnodar side of the bridge, while no queue was observed on the Kerch side. Traffic resumed around 4:45 a.m., four hours after the initial blockade, though no official explanation was provided for the interruption.

Earlier on Sunday, the Russian defense ministry claimed that Kyiv had deployed 38 airborne drones to target Crimea. However, Russian air defense systems reportedly intercepted all drones, though specifics regarding their locations and potential damage were not disclosed.

This development follows a report by Russian media outlet RT, alleging discussions among German military officials about potential strikes on the bridge. These claims, currently under investigation by Germany’s defense ministry, prompted Russia to summon the German ambassador to Moscow on Monday, according to state-run Tass news agency.

Despite unverified claims, the Kerch Bridge remains a symbol of contention between Ukraine and Russia. For Kyiv, it represents Russian occupation and thus serves as a strategic target, whereas Moscow views it as a vital conduit for its military operations.

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, emphasized the bridge’s significance during the Aspen Security Forum in July 2023, asserting its legitimacy as a military target in Kyiv’s quest to liberate the peninsula.

The bridge’s vulnerability was underscored on October 8, 2022, when a significant explosion damaged parts of the structure, causing the collapse of the Crimea-bound road segment and igniting oil tanker wagons on the rail section.

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