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Russia Launches Retaliatory Strikes on Ukraine’s Odesa After Crimean Bridge Attack

By Vusala Abbasova July 19, 2023

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The fresh wave of Russian attacks in the east and south Ukraine came after the attack on the Moscow-built bridge linking Russia with the Crimean peninsula on July 17. / TASS

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov made it clear that Russia's overnight missile attack on the Ukrainian port of Odesa was a direct response to the explosions on the bridge linking Russia with the Crimean peninsula.

On Tuesday, Russia’s armed forces launched overnight air attacks using Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones and Kalibr cruise missiles in the southern and eastern regions of Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry stated that the retaliatory strikes targeted facilities involved in the preparation of terror activities against Russia involving uncrewed boats, as well as the shipyard near Odesa where these vessels were being manufactured.

According to the ministry, all designated targets were successfully hit, resulting in fires and explosions at the facilities. Additionally, fuel storage facilities with a combined volume of approximately 70,000 tons, which supplied fuel to the Ukrainian armed forces, were destroyed in the Mykolaiv and Odesa regions.

In turn, Ukraine's Operational Command South announced that their air defense forces had intercepted all Russian missiles. However, the debris from the downed missiles and the resulting blast wave caused damage to the port infrastructure and several private residences in Odesa. The statement further revealed that Ukrainian air defense forces successfully shot down 21 Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones and six Kalibr cruise missiles over the Odesa region.

The fresh wave of Russian attacks in the east and south Ukraine came after the attack on the Moscow-built bridge linking Russia with the Crimean peninsula on July 17.

On Monday, Russia's National Anti-Terrorism Committee disclosed that two Ukrainian unmanned surface vehicles (USV) targeted the bridge just after 3 a.m. local time. Two strikes were reported at 3:04 a.m. and 3:20 a.m. The attacks killed a couple from the Belgorod region, and their 14-year-old daughter was hospitalized with injuries.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin confirmed that one part of the span towards Kerch had been completely destroyed and would require dismantling. Furthermore, a temporary bridge measuring 250 meters in length will need to be constructed to facilitate restoration work.

Russian President Vladimir Putin labelled the incident as another “terrorist attack” masterminded by the Kyiv authorities. As a result, the Investigative Committee has initiated a criminal case.

The Crimean Bridge, constructed by Russia after its seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, is seen as a vital supply route for Russian forces fighting in Ukraine. The bridge, which is also called Kerch bridge, was hit this week by what Russian authorities are calling a “terrorist attack.”

Located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, Crimea became a bone of contention between Kyiv and Moscow in 2014, after Russia’s takeover of the peninsula. The Moscow-backed referendum held in March of that year allegedly revealed that over 90 percent of Crimea’s residents wanted the peninsula to be under Russian control. However, the vote was declared illegitimate by Ukraine, Western countries, and the United Nations.