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Ukraine strikes Chonhar bridge to Crimea, says Russia

Ukraine has attacked a bridge linking southern Ukraine to the Crimean peninsula with long-range British missiles, Russian officials say.

The two parallel Chonhar bridges were both damaged, said the Russian-installed governor in occupied Kherson Vladimir Saldo. No-one was hurt.

Mr Saldo said it was likely British Storm Shadow missiles were used in an attack “ordered by London”.

The bridge is the shortest route from Crimea to the front line in the south.

It is also an important link to the occupied city of Melitopol, which lies on the coastal route from the Russian border across southern Ukraine to Crimea.

Photos posted by Vladimir Saldo showed a gaping hole in one of the two bridges, but he said repairs would be made quickly and vehicles would take an alternative route temporarily. Another Russian-installed official, Nikolai Lukashenko, said repairs could take weeks.

Ukrainian military spokeswoman Natalia Humeniuk said on national TV that the army was aiming to disrupt Russia’s supply routes and a military intelligence official, Andriy Yusov, said more attacks would follow.

Russia uses the road as a land bridge to Crimea, and Melitopol is thought to be one of the targets of Ukraine’s counter-offensive, which began in the southern region of Zaporizhzhia earlier this month.

Russian forces seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and then in February last year they invaded Ukraine’s southern coastal region too.

Ukrainian forces have bombed Russian-controlled bridges in the region before. Last summer, in the weeks before they recaptured the city of Kherson on the east bank of the Dnipro river, they repeatedly attacked the Antonivskiy bridge to stop Russian forces bringing supplies from occupied Crimea.

Then in October a bridge across the Kerch Strait linking Crimea to Russia was put out of action for weeks in a deadly attack condemned by President Vladimir Putin called an “act of terrorism”. Even now the Kerch bridge is not open to all traffic.

Vladimir Saldo threatened to retaliate for the latest attack by targeting a bridge linking neighbouring Moldova with Romania. Romania, a Nato member, and Moldova condemned his comments as unacceptable.

Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the south and east has made slow progress, with claims of eight villages recaptured so far.

The campaign was made harder when the Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro river was destroyed this month in a suspected Russian sabotage attack. Areas downstream of the dam were flooded, making crossing the Dnipro river much harder. Dozens of people have died, farms have been ruined and water supplies have been affected.

Russian forces have continued to target Ukrainian cities including a residential area of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s home city of Kryvyi Rih and the southern port of Odesa overnight.

President Zelensky told Ukrainians on Thursday that intelligence services had received information that Russia was preparing the “scenario of a terrorist attack” on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, seized during the full-scale invasion last year.

The plant is the biggest in Europe and Mr Zelensky warned that “radiation has no state borders”. The Kremlin immediately rejected his comments as “another lie”.

Although the plant’s six reactors have all been shut down, the UN’s atomic energy agency warned on Wednesday that the safety and security situation there was “extremely fragile”.

Water levels in a channel used to cool the reactors have declined since the Kakhovka dam was destroyed and the UN agency said the situation around the plant had become increasingly tense amid reports of Ukraine’s counter-offensive.

Source: BBC



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