Russia said it destroyed three Ukrainian naval drones that attempted to crash into the Crimea bridge, in what appeared to be the latest effort by Kyiv to disable the crucial transport link between the Russian mainland and the Moscow-annexed Crimean peninsula.
One naval drone was destroyed late on Friday and two others early on Saturday morning, Russia’s defence ministry said in separate posts on the Telegram messaging app.
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“On 1st September at about 11.15 pm (20:15 GMT), an attempt was undertaken by the Kyiv regime to launch a terrorist strike with a half-loaded unmanned boat,” the ministry said on Telegram. The drone boat was “spotted and destroyed in time off the Black Sea coast”, it said.
“On September 2, at about 02:20 am Moscow time (23:20 GMT Friday), the third Ukrainian semi-submersible unmanned boat, sent by the Kyiv regime to carry out a terrorist attack on the Crimean bridge, was destroyed in the Black Sea,” the ministry said in a later post.
The 19km (11-mile) bridge consists of two parallel structures, one reserved for road traffic and the other for rail traffic, and is a key infrastructure project for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin as it symbolises the attaching of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula to Russia, analysts say.
Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, has recently come under more frequent and intense attacks as Kyiv has promised to take the peninsula back from Russian control.
An attack on the bridge in July killed two people and caused significant damage to the road section, which is also used to transport military equipment in the continuing conflict with Ukraine. The bridge, which spans the Kerch Strait, was badly damaged in October 2022 in an explosion that Russian officials said was caused by the detonation of a truck laden with explosives.
The Kyiv Independent reported recently that Russia was in the process of sinking ferries in the Kerch Strait to protect the Crimean bridge from attacks.
Citing Ukraine’s military intelligence, the newspaper reported that “Russian forces believe the submerged boats will provide a protective lane in the water in front of the bridge”.
“One ferry has already been sunk and Russia plans to sink at least six in total,” the newspaper said.