Russia scrambles to repair Crimea bridge, Zelenskyy vows to accelerate 'victory'

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Moscow is scrambling to repair Kerch Bridge connecting the Crimean Peninsula to Russia by July after an explosion over the weekend damaged President Vladimir Putin’s prized bridge.

A deadline for July 1, 2023 was reportedly set Thursday and construction will be managed by Nizhneangarsktransstroy LLC, reported Ukrainian news outlet Pravda.

Kerch Bridge, which was completed in 2018 and championed by Putin following Russia’s occupation of Crimea in 2014, was severely damaged Saturday after an explosion destroyed part of the bridge. 

Workers restore the railway tracks on the Kerch bridge that links Crimea to Russia, near Kerch, on Oct. 9, 2022, a day after it was damaged by a blast.

Workers restore the railway tracks on the Kerch bridge that links Crimea to Russia, near Kerch, on Oct. 9, 2022, a day after it was damaged by a blast.
(AFP via Getty Images)

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A portion of the 12-mile-long bridge fell into the Kerch Strait and traffic was temporarily halted.

At least three people were killed in the blast and several fuel tankers on train transporting fuel from Russia to Crimea were destroyed.

No one has claimed responsibility for the explosion though Moscow has accused Ukraine’s chief of intelligence of being behind the attack.

At least eight people have been arrested in coordination with the attack.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday vowed to continue accelerating Kyiv’s advances in the war as his forces continue to make gains in the south.

A screen grab from a surveillance footage shows flames and smoke rising up after an explosion at the Kerch bridge (aka the Crimean Bridge) in the Kerch Strait, Crimea, Oct. 8, 2022. 

A screen grab from a surveillance footage shows flames and smoke rising up after an explosion at the Kerch bridge (aka the Crimean Bridge) in the Kerch Strait, Crimea, Oct. 8, 2022. 
(Security Camera/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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“I know that you are bringing victory closer as much as you can, and we will do everything to speed it up,” Zelenskyy said in an address to the nation in honor of Defenders Day. 

“You are the most precious thing we have. Each and every one,” he said addressing those fighting in the war against Russia. “Behind you, Ukrainian warrior, are millions of people who know exactly what they live for.”

Ukraine’s forces made significant advances in the north last month, retaking the region of Kharkiv and forcing Putin’s forces to retreat across Russian borders and deeper into the Donbas.

Ukrainian soldiers ride on an armored personnel carrier on a road of the eastern Luhansk region on June 23, 2022, amid Russia's military invasion launched on Ukraine. 

Ukrainian soldiers ride on an armored personnel carrier on a road of the eastern Luhansk region on June 23, 2022, amid Russia’s military invasion launched on Ukraine. 
(ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

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Western defense officials assessed Friday that pro-Russian groups have made some tactical advance in the region for the first time since July but noted Russia’s war effort continues to be undermined by Ukrainian advances and an inability to adequately resupply its forces. 

Ukrainian forces have also begun to make greater advances in the southern region of Kherson and Russian officials are concerned that Kherson City will become the latest front line city as Kyiv looks to push across to Crimea. 

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