Satellite Photos Reveal Crimea Bridge Fix As Passage Plagued by Closures


Russian authorities have attempted to patch up the Kerch Strait Bridge, installing a new span on the structure after a Ukrainian attack caused significant damage weeks ago, satellite images show.

Krym.Realii, a project of the U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, published satellite images dated September 3 and September 5 from the global imaging company Planet Labs. They show a span—the horizontal area between two structures of support—being installed to replace the one that was damaged in a Ukrainian attack on July 17.

The Kerch Strait Bridge is a key supply route for Russia’s forces and is Russia’s sole land link with Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula illegally annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014. It consists of two main parts—a four-lane roadway for vehicles and a railway bridge with two tracks—and is crucial to sustaining Moscow’s military offensives in southern Ukraine.

Newsweek has contacted the Russian Foreign Ministry via email for comment.

This video grab taken from Crimea24TV footage on July 17, 2023, shows the Kerch Strait bridge—linking Crimea to Russia—which was heavily damaged following an attack. Moscow said two drones had hit the bridge and blamed “the Kyiv regime.”
Getty Images/-/Crimea24TV/AFP

The 19-kilometer (12-mile) road and rail bridge, built after Russia’s annexation of the peninsula, was previously damaged in an explosion in October 2022. In August, Ukraine claimed responsibility for both strikes on the Kerch Strait Bridge.

The strategic bridge has been plagued by closures in recent weeks. On September 3, traffic on the bridge was briefly suspended, with no reason given by authorities.

The Washington D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War assessed last month that Ukraine’s strikes on key bridges linking Crimea to southern Ukraine and to mainland Russia are impacting Russia’s ability to move resources. The think tank said this was also impacting Russia’s efforts to fend off Ukraine’s ongoing counteroffensive to reclaim its territory.

Last summer, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pledged to reverse Russia’s annexation of Crimea. He said in August that the Kerch Strait Bridge is a legitimate target as Russia uses it as a military supply route in the 18-month-old war.

“This is the route used to feed the war with ammunition and this is being done on a daily basis,” Zelensky said.

Tensions are at a high in the Black Sea peninsula as Kyiv carries out its counteroffensive to recapture territory seized by Russian forces.

A yellow terrorist threat level has been in place in parts of Crimea since April 11, 2022, weeks after Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine began. Russian forces have been fortifying the peninsula amid fears of a Ukrainian advance.

“Russia is employing a range of passive defenses such as smoke generators and underwater barriers, alongside active defense measures such as air defense systems,” the British Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update posted on X, formerly Twitter, on September 1.

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