Ukrainian forces blew up the strategic road-and-rail bridge in a bid to block a crucial supply route for Russian forces in Ukraine.
The 19-km (12-mile) Crimea Bridge over the Kerch Strait is the only direct link between the transport network of Russia and the Crimean peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
The bridge was a flagship project for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who opened it himself for road traffic with great fanfare by driving a truck across in 2018.
It consists of a separate roadway and railway, both supported by concrete stilts, which give way to a wider span held by steel arches at the point where ships pass between the Black Sea and the smaller Azov Sea.
The structure was built, at a reported cost of $3.6 billion, by a firm belonging to Arkady Rotenberg, a close ally and former judo partner of Putin.
The bridge is crucial for the supply of fuel, food, and other products to Crimea, where the port of Sevastopol is the historic home base of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
It also became a major supply route for Russian forces after Moscow invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, sending forces from Crimea to seize most of southern Ukraine’s Kherson region and some of the adjoining Zaporizhzhia province.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Saturday that those troops could be fully supplied by existing land and sea routes.
The blast on Saturday brought down sections of the road taking traffic in one direction.
Traffic was initially suspended after the incident but by Saturday evening cars and buses were allowed to start crossing the bridge in alternating directions on the remaining intact lanes, while heavy goods vehicles waited to cross by ferry.
The span through which ships pass the strait was reportedly not damaged.