Ukraine: At least 17 dead in new bombings on Zaporizhia
At least 17 people were killed in bombing raids on the city of Zaporijia (southern Ukraine) on Sunday, three days after earlier attacks that killed 17 people, official sources told us. “After a night rocket attack on Zaporizhia (…) 17 people died,” said Anatoliy Kourtev, secretary of the city’s city council, on his Telegram account, according to a first report.
The Zaporizhia nuclear power plant has been at the center of a standoff in southern Ukraine for months, which has had to be shut down, has again lost its external power source due to bombing and is reliant on backup generators, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) alerted on Saturday. ), whose mission is on the ground.
The strikes hit homes and multi-story apartment buildings, he said. The city had already been the target of seven rockets early in the morning on Thursday, killing seventeen people. Sunday’s strikes come the day after a massive explosion, which Moscow attributes to a truck bomb, on the Crimean Bridge, a vital and symbolic infrastructure linking Russia to the peninsula annexed in 2014 to Ukraine’s detriment.
Reopening of the Crimean Bridge
The Crimean Bridge has reopened to road and rail traffic after it was partially destroyed by a huge explosion that Moscow attributed to a truck bomb on Saturday. “Rail traffic on the Crimean bridge has been fully restored,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Chousnulline told the press, according to the Ria Novosti agency, without specifying the timing.
“All scheduled trains will pass in full,” he added. He clarified on his Telegram account that this restoration affected both “passenger and freight trains”. “We have the technical capabilities to do that,” he said.
A train operator had announced a few hours earlier that two trains had already left for Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The Crimean authorities announced in the afternoon that traffic for cars and buses had resumed on the only intact lane of the bridge. This was confirmed by Marat Khousnoulline, specifying that the second path would be operational again “in the near future” and that the conclusions of the observations made on Saturday on the damaged parts would be known on Sunday.
Ferries take over the crossing of heavy goods vehicles in particular. “We see no shortage,” remarked the Deputy Prime Minister. Russia’s Tass News Agency previously reported that rail services for passengers and freight had fully resumed, but with delays.
CCTV footage shared on social media showed a powerful explosion as several vehicles drove across the bridge, including a truck that Russian authorities suspect was the source of the blast. In other footage, we see a convoy of tank cars on fire on the railway portion of the bridge and two spans of one of the two collapsed lanes.
According to investigators, three people died in the early morning attack: the driver of the truck and two people – a man and a woman – who were driving near the blast and whose bodies were pulled from the water. After appearing to spot a Ukrainian attack in a tongue-in-cheek tweet on Saturday morning, Ukrainian Presidency adviser Mykhaïlo Podoliak later reverted to a “Russian lead.”
In his evening speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was content to say in relation to the annexed peninsula: “Unfortunately, it was cloudy in Crimea”, not to mention the explosion. The investigative committee said it had established the identity of the owner of the truck bomb, a resident of Krasnodar Krai in southern Russia, and that investigations were ongoing.
This concrete bridge, which was built at great expense on the orders of Vladimir Putin to connect the annexed peninsula with Russian territory, is used in particular to transport military equipment for the Russian army fighting in Ukraine. If Ukraine is behind the Crimean bridge fire and explosion, the fact that such vital infrastructure could be damaged so far from the front lines by Ukrainian forces would be a snub to Moscow.
“The Crimea. The bridge. The beginning. Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be brought back to Ukraine,” commented Mr Podoliak in the morning. However, in a statement later issued by the Presidency, he attributed the blast to an internal struggle between the FSB and the Russian army.
“It should be noted that all indications are that the exploding truck drove into the bridge from the Russian side. So we have to look to Russia for answers (…) all this clearly points to a Russian trail.” he said. However, Russian diplomacy spokeswoman Maria Zakharova believed that the reactions in Kyiv showed the “terrorist nature” of the Ukrainian authorities.
The Russian army, which was in trouble on the Kherson front in southern Ukraine, assured that the supply of its troops was not in jeopardy: “Supply (…) is continuous and complete, along a land corridor and partly by sea “. Ukraine has attacked several bridges in the Kherson region in recent months to disrupt Russian supplies, as well as military bases in Crimea, attacks it claimed responsibility for only months later.
While Moscow was initially careful not to accuse Ukraine directly, the chairman of the regional parliament appointed by Russia, Vladimir Konstantinov, denounced a coup as “Ukrainian vandals”. The leader of the peninsula, Sergei Aksionov, tried to reassure Crimea that it had a month’s worth of fuel and two months’ worth of food.
Russia has always maintained that the bridge poses no risk despite fighting in Ukraine, but has in the past threatened Kyiv with reprisals if Ukrainian forces attack this or other infrastructure in Crimea. Since the beginning of September, the Russian armed forces have had to withdraw from many parts of the front. In particular, they had to withdraw from the Kharkiv region (northeast) and retreat to that of Kherson.
Faced with a beefed-up Ukrainian army that is heavily reliant on Western arms supplies, Vladimir Putin in late September ordered the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of reservists and the annexation of four Ukrainian regions, despite Moscow’s only partial control of them.
In a sign of dissatisfaction in high places over the conduct of the operations, Moscow announced on Saturday that it had appointed a new man to head its “military special operation” in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin, 55. Eventually, the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant lost the For months at the center of a stalemate in southern Ukraine and having to shut down its external power source again due to bombing and is dependent on backup generators, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) alerted on Saturday. ), whose mission is on the ground.
The number of Thursday’s bombings in the city of the same name has increased, the Ukrainian rescue service announced late Saturday evening and reported at least 17 dead.
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