Key developments on Oct. 8-9
- Putin accuses Ukrainian intelligence of orchestrating explosion at Crimean bridge
- At least 14 killed, 89 wounded after latest Russian strike on Zaporizhzhia
- Ukraine liberates over 1,170 square km in Kherson Oblast, 40 settlements in Donetsk Oblast
Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of blowing up the Crimean Bridge, a day after the attack.
Putin said "Ukrainian intelligence" was behind the Oct. 8 explosion that damaged the strategic bridge that connects Russia with the occupied Crimea peninsula.
The overnight explosion left two lanes destroyed, complicating the Russian military's already disrupted supply chains in the south of Ukraine as Kyiv continues to conduct its counteroffensive in the area.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's counteroffensive continued on multiple fronts over the weekend.
Ukrainian forces have thus far recaptured over 1,170 square kilometers of land in the southern Kherson Oblast, southern military command spokeswoman Natalia Humeniuk said on Oct. 9.
Nearly half of it was achieved in October alone.
In the east, the reintegration ministry said on Oct. 8 that Ukrainian forces had liberated 40 settlements in the northern part of Donetsk Oblast.
The eastern counteroffensive now entered Luhansk Oblast, the mostly occupied easternmost region.
On Oct. 9, Governor Serhiy Haidai named seven settlements in Luhansk Oblast liberated from Russian occupation – Novoliubivka, Nevske, Hrekivka, Novoyehorivka, Nadiia, Andriivka and Stelmakhivka.
Facing multiple defeats on the battlefield, Russia intensified attacks on civilian infrastructure, killing at least 12 people in an attack on an apartment building in Zaporizhzhia.
President Volodymyr Zelensky called the Russian attack on civilians "absolute evil," adding that Russians are "savages and terrorists."
Crimean bridge explosion
The Kremlin publicly accused Ukraine of the attack on the bridge built to connect Russian-occupied Crimea with Russia.
Chairman of Russia’s Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin said that Ukraine was "assisted by Russian citizens and foreigners."
According to Russian authorities, a truck packed with explosives detonated on the bridge near a tanker train which caused a chain reaction.
U.K. intelligence said on Oct. 9 that the transit via the bridge is "seriously degraded," with two of the four roadway lanes collapsing in several places.
The report said that the extent of the damage on the bridge's rail crossing is unclear, but "any serious disruption to its capacity will highly likely have a significant impact on Russia's already strained ability to sustain its forces in southern Ukraine."
Ukraine didn't comment on the alleged involvement in the blast, with the advisor to the President's Office, Mykhailo Podolyak, saying on Oct. 8 that it was potentially a result of an internal conflict in Russia.
Ukrainian officials and the public have largely welcomed the attack on the bridge seen as a pillar of Putin's regime.
U.S. national security spokesman John Kirby declined to comment on the explosion during an interview with ABC News on Oct. 9. Still, he added that Washington would continue to supply arms to Ukraine.
Russian forces launched 12 airstrikes on Zaporizhzhia early on Oct. 9, with most rockets hitting apartment buildings and residential houses, according to Governor Oleksandr Starukh.
Zelensky said in his evening address that at least 14 people were killed and the death toll could rise further with the rescue operation still underway. A child was among the killed.
Deputy Head of the President's Office Kyrylo Tymoshenko said that 89 others were wounded, including 11 children.
More than a week after Russia declared its illegal annexation on Sept. 30, it has ramped up attacks on Zaporizhzhia – the only regional capital among the four claimed to be annexed Ukrainian regions that Russia has failed to capture.
The death toll of another Russian attack on Zaporizhzhia three days earlier rose to 20 on Oct. 9, according to Tymoshenko. Sixty-eight others were also wounded, he said.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged the West to speed up deliveries of "more modern air defense systems to save innocent lives."
"Russia continues its missile terror against civilians in Zaporizhzhia," Kuleba said on Twitter hours after the Oct. 9 strikes.