According to Moscow police, a car bomb caused fire on a vital road and rail bridge connecting Crimea to Russia, a region annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
“Today at 6:07 a.m. (0307 GMT) 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 cited the national anti-terrorism committee as saying.
The bridge, which Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered built and opened in 2018, was a crucial transportation route for ferrying troops and delivering military supplies to Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine, particularly in the south.
Despite the war in Ukraine, Russia insisted the bridge was secure and threatened Kyiv with retaliation if it came under attack.
Local Russian official Oleg Kryuchkov was quoted by RIA-Novosti and the Tass news agency as saying that an object believed to be a fuel storage tank caught fire and that traffic has been halted on the bridge.
Social media posts included pictures that allegedly showed the span in flames and damaged. The reports’ and photographs’ veracity couldn’t be immediately confirmed.
The crossing is a pair of rail and road bridges that Russia constructed after it illegally took the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and annexed it.
The blasts that shook the city of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine early on Saturday morning sent towering plumes of smoke into the sky and set off a string of further explosions. The fire broke out hours later.
Ihor Terekhov, the mayor of Kharkiv, said on Telegram that missile strikes in the city’s core were the cause of the early morning blasts. He said that one of the city’s medical facilities and a non-residential building both caught fire as a result of the explosions. There were no reports of casualties right away.
The explosions occurred hours after Russia focused its ongoing invasion of Ukraine on regions it had forcibly annexed, and as the death toll from earlier missile strikes on residential complexes in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia reached 14.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee presented the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday to human rights groups in Russia, Ukraine, and a jailed activist from Belarus, a close ally of Moscow.
The award was given to “three outstanding champions of human rights, democracy, and peaceful coexistence,” according to the committee’s chair, Berit Reiss-Andersen. However, this was widely interpreted as a criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his handling of the worst armed conflict in Europe since World War II.
This week, Putin made illegal claims to four Ukrainian territories, including the Zaporizhzhia region, which houses the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe, whose reactors were shut down last month.