Russian President Vladimir Putin blames Ukraine for deadly 'terrorist attack' on Crimea bridge: Updates


Russian President Vladimir Putin blames Ukraine for deadly 'terrorist attack' on Crimea bridge: Updates

Russia launched multiple missile attacks into the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia overnight, killing at least 13 people and wounding more than 60 in an apparent reprisal for a truck bomb that damaged a Crimean bridge, authorities said Sunday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday blamed Ukraine's special services for the bridge explosion, and he ordered the chairman of his investigative committee, Alexander Bastrykin, to open a criminal case. Bastrykin said some suspects have already been identified.

"There is no doubt this is a terrorist attack aimed at destroying Russia's critically important civilian infrastructure," Putin said in reference to the only road link between Russia and Crimea. Ukraine officials have hinted at involvement in the blast but have not claimed responsibility.

The missile strikes caused parts of one high-rise apartment building to collapse and blew windows out of adjacent buildings. The attacks came hours after an explosion Saturday that caused the partial collapse of the Kerch Bridge, an important supply artery for the Kremlin’s war effort.

 Initially, the city council said 17 had died, but later regional police revised the number to 13. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack on civilians "absolute evil" and the Russians "savages and terrorists."

Russian authorities had warned of reprisals after the attack on the 12-mile, $3.6 billion Kerch Bridge, a symbol of Moscow’s seizure of Crimea eight years ago. The bridge reopened Sunday to rail and limited vehicle traffic, with long lines of cars waiting to cross. 

Other developments:

►Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson, who has been negotiating in an unofficial capacity for the release of Americans Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan from Russian captivity, told CNN on Sunday that an agreement for their freedom could be reached by the end of the year.

►Putin signed a decree tightening security for the Crimean bridge and for energy infrastructure between Crimea and Russia. He put Russia’s federal security service, the FSB, in charge of the effort.

►In the recaptured city of Lyman, where the fleeing Russians left a trail of devastation, the first 20 bodies from a mass burial site were exhumed. About 200 civilians are thought to be buried in one location. The bodies of Ukrainian soldiers were buried in a mass grave at another site, police said.

►Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that air force Gen. Sergei Surovikin would now command all Russian troops in Ukraine. Surovikin, who already was in charge of troops in southern Ukraine, had led Russian forces in Syria and was accused of overseeing a bombardment that destroyed much of Aleppo.


Ukraine makes plea for more defense weaponry

Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, responding to the Russian missile barrage, said Ukraine "urgently needs more modern air and missile defense systems" to protect its cities.

"Russia continues its missile terror against civilians in Zaporizhzhia," Kuleba said. "I urge partners to speed up deliveries."

The increased flow of weapons from the West has played a crucial role in a turnaround in the war as Ukraine forces have pushed back Russian troops, retaking thousands of square miles of land.


Criticism of war strategy heats up in Russia with losses

Disapproval of the war effort is growing in Russia, with vocal critics including Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and private military company owner Yevgeny Prigozhin, as well as state-approved TV presenters, pop stars and "an increasingly vocal community of ultra-nationalistic military bloggers," the British Defense Ministry said in its latest assessment.

The criticism remains focused on the Russian military command rather than political leadership, the ministry said. But the assessment says the trend of public voicing of dissent against the Russian establishment is being at least partly tolerated and "will likely be hard to reverse."


'Temporary relief:' Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant reconnected to grid

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was repaired and reconnected to the grid Sunday, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. However, its Director-General, Rafael Grossi, called the development "a temporary relief in a still untenable situation.''

The IAEA said the plant’s link to a 750-kilovolt line was cut by bombings Saturday. All six reactors at the facility, the largest of its kind in Europe, are shut down, but they still require electricity for cooling and other safety functions, which was being supplied by emergency diesel generators. The plant has been held by Russian forces for months but operated by Ukrainian employees.

"A protection zone is needed now,'' Grossi tweeted. "I will travel to & will see.''

Residents of Enerhodar, where the plant is located, have been living without electricity and gas for three days, Mayor Dmytro Orlov said Sunday. He said some locals used open fires next to their homes to cook food and boil water.

Orlov blamed constant shelling by Russia for preventing service workers from restoring utilities before Sunday – and warned locals to stay cautious when collecting firewood in areas likely to be riddled with landmines. About half of the 50,000 residents fled when Russian troops seized the city. 


Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, Rep. Don Bacon suggest Biden cool nuclear rhetoric

President Joe Biden’s warning last week that the risk of nuclear "Armageddon" is at the highest level since 1962 was "concerning" and not productive toward ending the war in Ukraine, retired Adm. Mike Mullen said Sunday. Mullen, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and principal military adviser to President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, said on ABC's "This Week" that Biden's warning was "about at the top of the language scale."

"I think we need to back off that a little bit and do everything we possibly can to try to get to the table to resolve this thing,” Mullen said. “It's got to end and usually there are negotiations associated with that."

Nebraska Republican Rep. Don Bacon, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that Putin is a "cornered animal ... unpredictable, unstable." But he also said Biden should be "more cautious" with his rhetoric.


Ukraine troops have liberated 50 towns in Kherson alone

The Armed Forces of Ukraine have liberated more than 50 towns and almost 500 square miles in the occupied Kherson region and are closing in on the Russian-held city, Deputy Interior Minister Yevhen Enin said Sunday. The region is one of four Russia claimed to annex after bogus referendums conducted at gunpoint that the Kremlin said drew overwhelming support for joining Russia.

"Little by little, step by step, the Kherson region, our lands are free from invaders," Enin said. Ukraine officials say they also are making inroads in the other three regions seized by Russia, including the Luhansk and Donetsk regions that make up the industrial Donbas. The Donbas region has been the primary focus of Russian troops since retreating from the Kyiv area in the early days of the war.


Slovakia's birthday gift to Putin: Howitzers for Ukraine

Slovakian Defense Minister Jaro Nad said Sunday that Bratislava had delivered two self-propelled, Zuzana 2 howitzers to support Ukraine's effort to turn back the Russian invasion. The neighbor of Ukraine has been one of Kyiv's staunchest supporters, with previous donations that included a Soviet-era S-300 air defense system, military helicopters and thousands of rockets.

Nad suggested the latest offerings were actually a gift for Putin, who turned 70 on Friday.

"To mark his 70th birthday, we delivered yet another gift to aggressor Putin. Another two new #Zuzana2 howitzers are now in (and much more to come)," Nad tweeted.

Post a Comment

* Please Don't Spam Here. All the Comments are Reviewed by Admin.