(Reuters) -Ukrainian forces targeted the Crimean Bridge and a number of other unspecified targets on the Crimean peninsula on Saturday in a flurry of rocket and drone attacks, but there were no casualties or damage, Russia’s Defence Ministry said.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry vowed retaliation for what it called a “terrorist attack” on the bridge in Crimea, which Moscow forcibly annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
Russia’s Defence Ministry said Ukraine had unsuccessfully tried to strike the bridge across the Kerch Strait with S-200 rockets, forcing its temporary closure to traffic. A fresh attack on Saturday afternoon again shut down the bridge.
The 12-mile (19-km) bridge, which links Russian-annexed Crimea to Russia, has come under repeated attack from Ukrainian forces since Moscow launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
“The Ukrainian missile was detected in a timely manner and was intercepted in the air by Russian air defence systems. No damage or casualties were reported,” the Defence Ministry said.
In a statement posted earlier on the Telegram messaging app, Russian-installed Crimea governor Sergei Aksyonov said two rockets had been downed by anti-aircraft defences near the bridge. He also said the bridge was undamaged.
Aksyonov later reported a third unsuccessful rocket attack on the bridge.
“Thank you to our air defence forces for a high level of professionalism and vigilance,” he wrote on Telegram.
Footage circulating on Russian social media on Saturday appeared to show the bridge wreathed in smoke. Reuters could not verify the images.
Ukraine almost never publicly claims responsibility for such attacks but has said destroying Russia’s military infrastructure is crucial for its counteroffensive.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova condemned the latest attacks on the bridge, saying they posed a danger to innocent lives and civilian infrastructure.
“There can be no justification for such barbaric actions and they will not go unanswered,” she wrote on Telegram.
Separately, Russian forces destroyed 20 Ukrainian drones launched onto the Crimean Peninsula earlier on Saturday, Russia’s Defence Ministry said.
There were no casualties and no damage as a result of the drone attacks, the ministry said on Telegram. It said 14 drones were destroyed by air defence systems and six were suppressed by electronic warfare.
Reuters could not independently verify the report. It was not clear what had been targeted in those reported attacks.
Drone attacks on Russian-controlled territories in Ukraine and deep inside Russia have increased since a drone was destroyed over the Kremlin in early May.
The Crimean Bridge was badly damaged last October in a powerful blast that Russian officials said was caused by a truck that blew up while crossing the bridge, killing three people.
Ukraine’s SBU domestic intelligence agency later claimed responsibility for the sabotage operation.
The bridge, which is the only direct link between the transport network of Russia and the peninsula, was a flagship project for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who opened it for road traffic to much fanfare by driving a truck across in 2018.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly and Felix LightWriting by Gareth JonesEditing by William Mallard, Helen Popper and Andrew Cawthorne)