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Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a meeting of his national security council on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russia’s state news agency TASS on Sunday, following an explosion of fire on a strategic Crimean bridge on Saturday.
Although Peskov declined to say whether they would discuss the explosion at the Kerch Bridge linking Russian-occupied Crimea to Russia, the blast that partially destroyed Putin’s pet infrastructure project – which is essential for supplying Russian military combat in Ukraine – is bound to be on the agenda of the Security Council.
In recent weeks, the Kremlin has issued thinly veiled threats to use its nuclear arsenal against Ukraine as Kyiv regains territory Russia occupied during its invasion of the country.
The latest Russian official to come to the fore was Colonel General Andrey Kartapolov, who heads the State Duma’s defense committee.
“There will be an answer” that “all [Ukrainians] will feel” on the Russian side if Ukraine is found responsible for the explosion that damaged the Kerch bridge, Kartapolov told Russian media Vedomosti on Sunday. “What the answer will be, we will find out. Our President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief never does what the ‘partners’ expect of him. He does what is not expected of him,” Kartapolov said.
So far, the Ukrainian government has not commented on the origins of the apparent attack. The country’s security service posted an encrypted message on Telegram on Saturday after the explosion, which reads: “Dawn, the bridge is well on fire; Nightingale in Crimea, The SBU [Ukrainian security service] encounter,” along with a photo of the damaged bridge.
Russia has opened an investigation into the explosion and the Russian Foreign Ministry is pointing the finger at Ukraine. “The Kyiv regime’s reaction to the destruction of civilian infrastructure testifies to its terrorist nature,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, according to Russian media Kommersant.
Fear is mounting that Russia may resort to a nuclear response. Pope Francis said Sunday that “we must not forget the danger of nuclear war”, asking “Why don’t we learn from history?”
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said that the Russian army kill some 17 civilians in the Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia on Sunday.
“A missile attack on the civilian population of Zaporizhzhia destroyed residential houses, where people slept at night, lived, did not attack anyone,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. said.