Ukraine launches waterborne drone attack on Crimea bridge, disrupting vital supply route


Ukraine’s security services have claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on the Kerch bridge, the sole connection between Russia and the annexed Crimea peninsula. Waterborne drones were deployed in what Ukrainian officials describe as a “special operation” carried out by Kyiv’s navy and SBU security service.

The bridge, a crucial supply route for Russian troops in Ukraine, suffered significant damage just hours before the expiration of a crucial deal allowing Ukraine to export its grain.

Russian authorities confirmed that a civilian couple tragically lost their lives in the blast, while their daughter sustained injuries. This incident follows a previous explosion on the bridge last year, which Moscow attributed to Kyiv. Local officials have halted traffic and advised tourists to remain in their lodgings as the situation unfolds.

Meanwhile, negotiations in Istanbul, involving Turkish and UN officials, were underway to secure an extension for the grain export deal. This agreement, first signed in July 2022, permits Ukraine to export its grain via the Black Sea. However, Russia’s reluctance to renew the deal has disrupted the flow of over 32 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain, bringing the trade to a standstill.

The Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), responsible for overseeing the agreement, stated that the applications for participation in the deal had not been approved by all parties. As a result, no new ships have been authorized to participate since June 27. The most recent vessel cleared by the signatories was the Turkish bulk carrier TQ Samsun, en route from the Ukrainian port of Odesa to Istanbul.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed optimism about the prospects of renewing the grain deal during his recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, the Kremlin quickly dismissed Erdogan’s claim, emphasizing that no such agreement had been made. Putin has repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the agreement, citing alleged breaches related to the export of Russian food and fertilizers.

The grain shipments facilitated by the deal have primarily benefited China, Turkey, and developed economies. Additionally, the World Food Program has relied on this agreement to provide essential aid to countries experiencing severe food shortages, including Afghanistan, Sudan, and Yemen. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been actively engaged in securing the deal’s renewal and has sent a letter to President Putin advocating for the removal of obstacles hindering Russia’s fertilizer exports.

Simultaneously, Ukraine continues its counteroffensive against Russian forces. The Ukrainian military announced that it had successfully retaken several square kilometers of territory surrounding the eastern city of Bakhmut, previously seized by Russian forces in May. Bakhmut, once a vibrant city known for its sparkling wine and salt mine, has endured extensive destruction during the prolonged and brutal conflict.

In the Kupyansk area of the Kharkiv region, Russian forces have been aggressively advancing in recent days, according to Deputy Defense Minister Ganna Malyar. Ukraine’s military, bolstered by Western weapons and strengthened offensive capabilities, initiated their highly anticipated fightback last month. However, they acknowledge facing formidable challenges and have called upon allies such as the United States to provide long-range weapons and artillery.

As the battle intensifies, Ukrainian commanders on the ground stress the importance of perseverance in the face of numerous adversaries. “Bulat,” one such commander, revealed, “People should understand what price we pay for [advancing]. There are a lot of enemies. We need time to grind them down.”

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