A blast and fire suspended traffic and damaged a key bridge linking Russia to the occupied Crimean Peninsula early on October 8 in what Moscow authorities said was a car bombing and a senior aide to Ukraine’s president suggested was a fresh blow by Kyiv targeting operational support for Moscow’s seven-month-old full-scale invasion.
Meanwhile, Kyiv tallied gains in its ongoing counteroffensives in eastern and southern Ukraine over the past week, while pro-Russia forces claimed their first gains in over a month in the eastern Donetsk region around Bakhmut.
A video shared on pro-Ukrainian social media showed a raging fire on the rail section of the dual road-and-rail Crimea Bridge over the Kerch Strait and a collapsed span on the nearby road segment.
“Today at 6:07 a.m. on the road traffic side of the Crimean bridge…a car bomb exploded, setting fire to seven oil tankers being carried by rail to Crimea,” Russian news agencies quoted the national antiterrorism committee as saying.
Mykhaylo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, sent a tweet suggesting Ukrainian involvement. He called the bridge incident “the beginning” but stopped short of a claim of responsibility by Kyiv.
“Crimea, the bridge, the beginning,” Podolyak tweeted, in English. “Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled.”
The three-year-old bridge became a symbol of Russian revanchism and has been used to transfer troops, weapons, equipment, and fuel from Russia to Ukraine during the current invasion.
Russian media and Telegram channels reported that traffic was halted on the bridge after Ukrainian reports of a huge explosion there at around 6 a.m. local time.
Hours later, the Russian Transport Ministry said limited road traffic had resumed on undamaged lanes of the bridge.
Russia’s TASS quoted a spokeswoman for the Taman management of federal highways of Russia’s Federal Road Agency (Avtodor) as saying “personnel from the Russian Emergencies Ministry and the road service are working on the site to contain the fire.”
Shared images showed black smoke billowing from a huge blaze at one end of the 19-kilometer road-and-rail bridge, which was completed in 2019.
The Crimea Bridge is Europe’s longest and was intended to consolidate Russia’s control over Crimea, which it invaded and annexed in 2014.
Reports of intense fighting in many areas of Ukraine continued, one day after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to human rights activists in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine against the backdrop of harsh crackdowns by Moscow and its allies in Minsk on dissent and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Hours earlier, Zelenskiy said in his nightly address late on October 7 that Ukrainian forces have recaptured more than 770 square kilometers and 29 municipalities in the past week since Russia’s “sham” referendums in four regions of Ukraine.
But pro-Russian forces said overnight on October 7-8 that they had recaptured ground in the area around the strategic city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region in the first Russian claim of a territorial gain since Kyiv’s counteroffensive began more than a month ago.
Russia-backed separatists in Donetsk said on October 7 that they retook several villages near Bakhmut, including Otradovka and Veselaya Dolina.
Russian forces also launched another effort to storm Bakhmut, a key strategic city of around 70,000 before the war where Moscow and its separatist allies have been shelling for weeks.
A Current Time correspondent on the front lines in northern Donetsk said late on October 7 that Ukrainian fighters appeared to have repelled the Russian forces trying to break through a defense line in the direction of Bakhmut.
RFE/RL cannot independently verify claims by either side in areas of intense fighting.
A day earlier, shelling damaged a power line providing electricity to one of the reactors at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said as it announced that its director will travel to Moscow early next week.
The shelling forced the reactor to temporarily rely on its emergency diesel generators to run cooling systems, the IAEA said on October 7 in a news release.
Ukrainian officials later said the number of dead from a Russian aerial attack on residential buildings in Zaporizhzhya blamed on “kamikaze” drones rose to 11.
The head of the military administration in the Donetsk region said officials are now aware of two areas in the liberated city of Lyman containing victims of the Russian occupation there.
Pavlo Kyrylenko said one of the sites holds the remains of about 200 people buried individually who are believed to be civilian victims.
The other is a mass grave with military and civilian remains. The exact number of bodies it contains is not yet clear.