Russians repair bridge blown up near Ukraine in ‘sabotage’

Teams of workers strove Monday to repair a bridge in southwestern Russia near the border with Ukraine that was damaged in what a local governor described as an act of sabotage.

The regional administration said it expects the repair work will be completed Wednesday.

Kursk regional Gov. Roman Starovoit said Sunday that the bridge was blown up by unidentified attackers and the Investigative Committee, Russia’s top state investigative agency, has launched a criminal probe into what it described as a “terrorist act.”

Officials didn’t specify the significance of the bridge for the war, but it sits on a key railway link used to ferry supplies to Russian troops fighting in eastern Ukraine

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack on the bridge, that follows a series of explosions and fires in western Russia amid the war in Ukraine that has entered a third month.

On April 1, two Ukrainian helicopter gunships struck an oil depot in Belgorod, according to Russian officials, causing a massive fire.

A week ago, a massive blaze erupted at an oil depot in the western city of Bryansk owned by Transneft-Druzhba, a subsidiary of the Russian state-controlled company Transneft that operates the western-bound Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline carrying crude to Europe. The fire didn’t cause any disruption in oil deliveries.

On the same day, another oil storage facility in Bryansk also caught fire.

And on Wednesday, several explosions rocked a huge ammunition depot in the Belgorod region, sparking a huge fire.

Ukraine hasn’t officially taken responsibility for the incidents, and the Russian officials also haven’t publicly ascribed those to Ukrainian attacks, apart from the April 1 incident.

“The frequency of explosions in Russia and their targeting speaks better than any words about who benefits from it. But Ukraine does not want to take responsibility for the sabotage and remains silent,” Nikolai Sungurovsky, a military analyst at Ukraine’s Razumkov Center, told AP.

“For all the obviousness of the situation, it is extremely unprofitable for Ukraine to take responsibility for sabotage and explosions in Russia, because then Kyiv risks losing the status of a ‘victim of aggression’ and this will create difficulties in international courts,” Vladimir Fesenko, an analyst at the Penta Center, told AP. “Ukrainian lawyers are already preparing multi-volume materials for international courts in order to demand multibillion-dollar compensation from Russia for damage from aggression”

Last week, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak hinted at Ukraine’s involvement although he stopped short of claiming responsibility. He noted in a messaging app post that the Belgorod, Voronezh and Kursk regions that border Ukraine hosted depots serving the invasion and adding that “karma is a harsh thing.”

“If you, Russians, decided to massively attack another country, massively kill everyone there, massively crush civilians with tanks and use warehouses in your regions to provide for these killings, then sooner or later the debts will have to be repaid,” Podolyak wrote Wednesday. “Given the intensity and scale of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, it will not be possible to sit it out.”

Explosions were frequently heard in Russian regions bordering Ukraine, drawing a stream of gleeful comments on social platforms in Ukraine.

Earlier Monday, Belgorod region Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said that loud bangs heard in the region overnight came from a Russian airstrike in Ukraine, not “by something that flew to us from Ukrainian territory.”

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