Explosion of Russian Bridge Causes Further Tensions in War Against Ukraine


Photo courtesy of Gayatri Malhotra on Unsplash.com

Amanda Salanitri, Staff Writer

On October 8, an explosion occurred on Kerch Bridge, which connects Russia and its annexed republic, Crimea. In the following days, the source of the blast had been continuously contested by various officials investigating the incident, with Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, declaring it was “an act of terrorism” by Ukraine (BBC news). The event has given way to the most extensive air strikes Russia has conducted since the beginning of its war against Ukraine. 

While the cause of the explosion hasn’t been confirmed, multiple theories have been proposed, attempting to explain how the incident occurred. With the help of surveillance videos of the Kerch Bridge, people have analyzed the footage to determine a possible source of the explosion. 

Many had initially pointed to a west-bound truck that entered the bridge from the Russian side; footage depicts explosions suddenly appearing behind, under, and to the sides of the vehicle. The government of the Russian Federation supported the truck theory, made by their Federal Security Service (FSB). Upon further investigation into the truck, evidence points to 25-year-old Samir Yusubov, from the Russian city Krasnodar, as being the owner. This suggests that the attack would have been an act of domestic terrorism in Russia and not an attack from Ukraine. The theory rapidly spread throughout Russian circles, possibly owing to the fact that the Kremlin may prefer domestic terrorism be the cause of the major infrastructure damage, as opposed to their war enemy being responsible. 

This theory was somewhat disputed, however, along with another theory that a Ukrainian boat passing under the bridge at the time of the explosion was the cause. The leading theory is that a drone, operated by Ukraine, flew under the bridge and set off the explosive devices.  This would make sense from a tactical perspective, as the bridge was thought to have been sustaining Russia’s war effort against Ukraine, and destroying it could give Ukraine an advantage in the war, along with humiliating the Kremlin. 

According to some, the drone that possibly caused the explosion was deduced to be a water or air drone and may have been supplied to Ukraine by the United States. The decision to cause an explosion under the bridge could have been made with the consideration that they would be targeting the bridge’s weakest point, rather than from the top or sides, which are designed to withstand pressure from vehicles and wind. Furthermore, in a report from Molfar, a Ukrainian organization of independent military analysts, the damage done by the explosions is noted, saying, “the roadbed was torn off from its fastenings, but the supporting pillars remain undamaged (because their stability is greater than the road).”

Thus far, officials from Ukraine have not claimed responsibility for the attack. Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, mentioned the bridge attack as “the beginning” but did not give insight into who was behind it. Podolyak later released a statement supporting the truck theory, saying, “It is worth noting that the truck that detonated, according to all indications, entered the bridge from the Russian side. So the answers should be sought in Russia” (Newsweek).

Although discourse about the bridge attack continues, the initiative taken by Russia in response to the event has been detrimental to Ukraine. Starting Monday, October 10, massive long-range strikes from cruise missiles have been ordered by Putin. Attacks were made on 11 major infrastructure sites across 8 regions of Ukraine, according to Reuters. This included heavily populated areas such as intersections, public parks, and tourists sites in populous areas, such as the capital city Kyiv. The air strikes additionally targeted Ukraine’s power grid, leaving the nation and its citizens with no electricity, heat, or water. Along with the blackout, thousands of Ukrainians have fled to bomb shelters amid air raid sirens, and Ukraine officials have stated that at least 11 people have been killed (Reuters). In response, United States President Joe Biden released a statement saying, “These attacks killed and injured civilians and destroyed targets with no military purpose. They once again demonstrate the utter brutality of Mr. Putin’s illegal war on the Ukrainian people” (Reuters).