KIEV, June 22 (AP) Russia-backed officials said Thursday an explosion damaged a bridge, one of the few links between Crimea and mainland Ukraine, while Ukraine’s prime minister called for it to remain open. Be patient as the Kiev Armed Forces continue to advance the counter-offensive with the situation closely watched.
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, and Russian troops used the Chungar Bridge to reach Kherson province in southern Ukraine.
Russia and Ukraine control different parts of the province, which has been the focus of fighting and attacks as Ukrainian forces try to retake Russian-held territory.
Ukrainian authorities say Moscow must withdraw its troops from Crimea and areas it seized during its all-out invasion last year to end the country’s nearly 16-month war.
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The chairman of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, said the damage to the bridge was not serious and could be repaired within a few days.
Vladimir Sardo, head of the Russian-occupied Kherson province region, said the explosion appeared to have been caused by a long-range cruise missile supplied to the Ukrainian military by France and Britain.
The claim could not be independently verified. Many military analysts say Ukraine’s recent actions in the south and east of the country show that Kiev’s army is in a long-awaited counteroffensive.
Asked about reports of damage to the Chungar bridge, Andriy Yusov, spokesman for the main intelligence service of Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, did not confirm Ukraine’s involvement but said on television that the strike on the bridge would be an “ongoing process.” a part of.
“If the star is on, it means it did it for a reason, right? Let’s just say there will be a continuation,” Yusov said, citing Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky The beginning of a famous work.
Russian state news agency Ria Novosti quoted an unnamed representative of Russia’s Investigative Committee on Thursday as saying that preliminary information indicated that four missiles had been fired, one of which had a French-made mark on the wreckage.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed this week that Ukraine planned to attack Russian territory, including Crimea, using US-made HIMARS and British-supplied Storm Shadow missiles.
He warned that using the missiles against targets outside the main theater would “immediately trigger an attack on the decision-making center inside Ukraine”.
However, Shoigu on Thursday downplayed the importance of advanced weapons, such as the Storm Shadow missile, provided by the West.
“We know that the volumes delivered in 2023 and already delivered will not have a significant impact on the course of hostilities,” he told a meeting of the Russian Security Council chaired by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
During the first days of Russia’s February 2022 invasion, Russian troops in Crimea pushed north and quickly captured the city of Kherson, the capital of Kherson province, and surrounding areas.
Ukraine forced Russia to retreat to the Dnieper River, which bisects the province, and reclaimed the territory in November.
Russia still occupies the east side and Ukraine the west. A dam upstream was destroyed this month, causing deaths and widespread flooding on both sides.
Ukrainian commanders said it also stymied some of their plans to capture Russian positions early in the counteroffensive.
Speaking on Thursday about the general progress of the counteroffensive, not just in the south, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmikhal said Ukrainian troops had advanced seven kilometers in the past two weeks and recaptured areas including eight villages within the territory.
“As the Ukrainian president said yesterday, the counteroffensive is not a Hollywood movie. It is not easy to walk,” Shmikhal told reporters at a Ukrainian revival conference in London.
“A counter-offensive is a series of military operations. Sometimes it’s offensive, sometimes it’s defensive. Sometimes it can be a tactical standstill.
Unfortunately, as we were preparing for this counteroffensive, the Russians were also preparing. So there’s a lot of minefields, and it does slow things down. “
Shmikhal, while appealing to realistic expectations, said Ukrainian supporters should expect to see progress in a well-planned, high-stakes campaign.
“We’re not taking our people into the flames of this war like the Russians are. … We’re going to take a very smart offensive move, so it’s going to take time,” the prime minister said. “We should all be patient and we will see the results.”
The Crimean peninsula is connected to mainland Ukraine by an isthmus about 9 kilometers (6 miles) wide and several bridges.
Three people were killed in October when an explosion on a bridge linking Crimea to Russia partially collapsed the bridge, according to Russian authorities.
At 19 kilometers (12 miles) across the strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, the Kerch Bridge is the longest bridge in Europe and a symbol of Moscow’s claim to Crimea.
Putin presided over the opening ceremony of the bridge in 2018 and drove a Mercedes across the bridge after restoration was completed in December.
He also visited Crimea a day after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for a Russian leader accused of war crimes. His trip was to mark the ninth anniversary of the annexation of the peninsula, a move that Ukraine and most of the world consider illegal.
Three people were killed and five were injured in an explosion and fire in a 16-story residential building in Kiev on Thursday.
Serhii Popko, head of the Ukrainian capital’s Military Administration, said in a Telegram post that a gas leak could have been the cause of the explosion. Firefighters worked overnight to bring the fire under control. (Associated Press)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the body of content may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)