KYIV – The explosion of fire on the Kerch Bridge on Saturday has sparked a chorus of calls for brutal retaliation against Ukraine among Russian public figures who support President Vladimir Putin.
These calls increase political pressure on Putin, who said in September that Moscow was ready to use “all available means” to protect the country and its people “if our country is threatened”.
“It’s not a bluff,” Putin added when announcing the mobilization of 300,000 reservists for the war against Ukraine.
His statement sparked speculation among Western Ukraine supporters about a possible deployment of tactical nuclear weapons against Ukrainian troops in case Kyiv succeeds in its counter-offensive in four Ukrainian territories officially annexed by the Kremlin, or if the Ukraine was trying to reconquer Crimea. Kyiv did not claim responsibility for the bridge explosion.
Sergei Markov, a Kremlin-linked politician and former parliamentarian from Putin’s United Russia party, believes that the “terrorist attack” on the Kerch bridge is proof that “the United States and its Ukrainian proxy regime will move the line red further and further”.
“No response from Russia? Even further. And even? Even further,” he wrote on social media, demanding a firm response from Moscow.
Konstantin Dolgov, a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament, also called the explosion “a terrorist attack” and “another sinister manifestation of the terrorist nature of the puppet regime in Kyiv”.
Referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Dolgov said: “Terrorists must be dealt with unequivocally!
Rodion Miroshnik, who until recently represented the Russian-backed Luhansk People’s Republic in Moscow, wrote on social media that “undamaged Ukrainian bridges over the Dnieper look ridiculous against the backdrop of a burning Crimean bridge.”
The damage to the Kerch bridge, which connects Russia to Crimea, the peninsula illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014, not only poses a problem of supplying Russia with men and weapons for its units in the south of the Ukraine. It is also a grave humiliation for Putin personally, having occurred the day after his 70th birthday.
The explosion was also a slap in the face for Russian state-controlled media propagandists, who have regularly used the bridge as a symbol of Russia’s successful annexation of Ukrainian territory.
TV journalist Vladimir Solovyov, sanctioned earlier this year by the EU for his propaganda activities, wrote on his Telegram channel: “It is time to react. By any means available.
He said Ukraine “must be plunged into dark times” and urged Russia to destroy bridges, dams, railways, thermal power plants and other infrastructure in Ukraine. Under international law, such deliberate destruction would be a war crime. The UN already said last month that Russia had committed war crimes in Ukraine, including bombing civilian areas and summary executions.
Andrei Medvedev, a prominent television journalist and deputy chairman of the Moscow City Council, said that “what will happen to us [Russia] depends, among other things, on the reaction [of the authorities] to today’s events.