The Crimean Bridge was rocked by a violent explosion: one of the most important symbols of the Putin era is on fire. A loss of the bridge would have some consequences for Russia and the war.

Putin’s prestige object is on fire: Around six o’clock on Saturday morning, a violent explosion is said to have occurred on the bridge between Russia and the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow. Not much can be seen of the former road: there is a deep hole above the sea – part of the road is submerged in water.

According to the Russian National Counter-Terrorism Committee, the explosion of the important road and railway bridge occurred in a truck transporter. Seven fuel trailers of a train are said to have caught fire as a result. It is still unclear how the explosion could have happened. However, the consequences for Russia are already becoming apparent.

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Even if there is no commitment from the Ukrainian side to an attack on the bridge, Mykhailo Podoliak, adviser from Zelenskyi’s presidential office, wrote on Twitter: “Crimea, the bridge, the beginning. Everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, all Russian occupiers must be expelled.”

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksiy Danilov tweeted a video with the burning bridge on the left and on the right a video of Marilyn Monroe singing her famous song “Happy Birthday, Mr. President”.

Ukraine has long been talking about the recapture: Kyiv has already announced in the past that the bridge systems will be shelled as soon as the heavy weapons supplied by the West are available.

But Russia’s call for retaliation is also getting louder: Margarita Simonyan, head of the state foreign broadcaster RT, tweeted just one word: “And?” This raises the question of how the Kremlin will react to the destruction of the bridge. Senator Alexander Bashkin, on the other hand, declares that Russia will undoubtedly provide an appropriate and “possibly asymmetrical response” to this “brazen attack”, reports “Spiegel”.

The bridge, which opened in 2018, resembles a personal prestige object of Putin. At the opening of the bridge, the head of state said: “The bridge is a symbol of our unity and freedom.” With the successful completion of the bridge, the Kremlin has demonstrated that Russia is able to implement demanding infrastructure projects, despite Western sanctions.

The Kremlin expressed its pride by printing an image of the bridge on the new 2000 ruble banknote. In 2018, the Crimean Bridge was featured in a lavish feature film titled Crimean Bridge. Made with love”, reports the “Spiegel”.

The recent successes of the counter-offensive can also be attributed to the successful destruction of Russian camps and the cutting off of supply routes for Russian troops. The bridge is a central element of Russian military strategy, as it secured supplies from the Russian mainland to the Crimean peninsula and to the recently annexed areas of Kherson and Zaporizhia.

Military expert Mick Ryan told NBC News that the bridge is an important supply route for newly mobilized troops, ammunition and civilian supplies in Crimea. Wounded troops and broken weapons would also be transported back to Russia via the bridge, Ryan said.

With the Crimea bridge gone, supplying the peninsula has become significantly more difficult for Russia. The ZDF reports that the only way to supply Crimea is on a railway line from Donetsk via Melitopol. However, this railway line has now come within range of the Ukrainian artillery, since the front line has shifted far into the areas occupied by Russia. A safe transport of supplies is no longer possible in this way, according to the “ZDF”.

This would also play a major role in the battle for the city of Cherson in the south of the country, where the Russian army has been pushed back further and further in recent days. Christian Mölling from the German Society for Foreign Relations says to “ZDF”: “Even if Russia now builds a stop line, it can no longer be supplied.” This could become a problem for Putin, especially in winter: in addition to food, ammunition and fuel heating material must then also be brought to the Crimea.

“Politically, this is a huge kick in the ass for Putin the day after his birthday,” military expert Mick Ryan told NBC News on Saturday. The blast would show Russia’s inability to close all the provinces defend it, which it recently annexed, Ryan said.

He believes that the explosion is now increasing the pressure on Putin. Finally, his forces have lost ground in recent weeks as Ukraine liberated formerly occupied cities in the east, such as Lyman in Donetsk province.

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Illia Ponomarenko, a reporter from The Kyiv Independent, wrote on Twitter: “The mere fact that the Crimean bridge was hit is another devastating blow to the already very weak Russian morale.” According to him, the explosion could provide further impetus for the looming internal power struggle in Russia’s militarist circles.

The most profound impact of the blast is the psychological impact it would have on Russians, Keir Giles, a senior adviser at London think tank Chatham House, told NBC News. Putin’s difficulties in mobilizing forces would be exacerbated by the Crimean bridge explosion.

According to Mick Ryan, the bridge was a symbol of Putin’s takeover of Crimea. However, the explosion is now a symbol that the Ukrainians intend to retake Crimea, according to Ryan.