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The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin has lambasted Ukraine accusing it of being behind the Kerch bridge explosion, which he described an ‘act of terrorism’ that destroyed part of the crucial link between Russia and the annexed territory of Crimea, as calls grow for reprisals.
Africa Daily News, New York reports that the bridge, which holds key strategic and symbolic value to Russia, was partly damaged on Saturday by what Moscow has said was a truck bomb. Road and rail traffic on the 19km (12-mile) bridge was temporarily halted, hindering a vital supply route for Russia’s armed forces battling a renewed Ukrainian counteroffensive.
‘There is no doubt. This is an act of terrorism aimed at destroying critically important civilian infrastructure,’ Putin said on Sunday in a video posted on the Kremlin’s Telegram channel.
‘This was devised, carried out, and ordered by the Ukrainian special services.’
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Putin is due to convene a meeting of the country’s security council on Monday with the body’s Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev saying that Russia should kill the ‘terrorists’ responsible for the attack.
“Russia can only respond to this crime by directly killing terrorists, as is the custom elsewhere in the world. This is what Russian citizens expect,” the former president was quoted as saying by the state news agency Tass.
The damage to the bridge came amid battlefield defeats for Russia in the east and south, and growing concern over the use of nuclear weapons. Russia last month formally annexed four areas of Ukraine following hastily-organised referendums that breached international law, and Putin has repeatedly warned that any attack on Russia could provoke a nuclear response.
Putin made the accusation against Ukraine during a meeting with Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, who presented the findings of an inquiry into the bridge blast and subsequent fire.
Bastrykin said the truck had travelled through Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, North Ossetia and Russia’s Krasnodar region before reaching the bridge. Among those who helped in the attack were “citizens of Russia and foreign countries,” Bastrykin added in the video on the Kremlin’s Telegram channel.