The huge explosion on the Crimea bridge shortly before dawn on Saturday severely curtailed road and rail traffic along an important artery — both civilian and military — at a critical moment in Russia’s campaign in Ukraine.
At first sight, it was another embarrassment — even humiliation — for the Russian state, still reeling from battlefield setbacks in Kharkiv, Donetsk and, more recently, in Kherson in the south.
But by Monday the bridge attack had also become the Kremlin’s justification for a sudden blitz of missile attacks across Ukraine. By midday, according to Ukrainian authorities, some 80 missiles and rockets had been fired at infrastructure in a dozen cities — and Russian officials were promising more to come.
In the hours after the bridge explosion, Russian investigators fastened onto one explanation for the blast: It was a terrorist attack using a massive explosive charge hidden in a truck and then detonated as the vehicle crossed the bridge toward Crimea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin picked up the theme on Monday, saying Kyiv had “put itself on a par with the most odious terrorist groups,” which had prompted the subsequent “massive strike with precision-guided weapons on Ukrainian infrastructure — energy infrastructure, military command and communications.”
“It is simply impossible to leave the crimes of the Kyiv regime unanswered,” he said.
Putin went on: “In terms of the further act of terrorism on the territory of Russia, the Russian reply will be harsh and will be corresponding to the level of threat to the Russian Federation, have no doubt about it.”
Read the full analysis: