Ukraine’s intelligence service claims responsibility for Crimean Bridge drone attack

Ukraine’s security services have claimed responsibility for an attack on the vital bridge connecting Crimea to Russia last month.

The country’s intelligence bureau, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), said it used remotely controlled sea drones carrying 850kg of explosives to target the Crimean Bridge, a critical supply link built by Vladimir Putin in 2018.

The drone strike on 17 July damaged the bridge and killed two civilians, according to Russian officials.

Ukraine does not usually claim responsibility for such attacks, but spy chief Vasyl Maliuk confirmed the security services’ involvement in an interview with CNN and warned the Russian president that more similar strikes will follow.

Mr Maliuk said the drones called 2Sea Baby” were developed internally by the SBU, which has now released footage to CNN showing the pilot’s screen moments before the attack alongside CCTV of the immediate aftermath.

Damaged parts of the Crimean Bridge connecting Russia and Crimea (OSTOROZHNO NOVOSTI)
Damaged parts of the Crimean Bridge connecting Russia and Crimea (OSTOROZHNO NOVOSTI)

The SBU chief said Sea Baby drones were also used to attack a Russian oil tanker in the Black Sea and the warship Olenegorsky Gornyak earlier this month. The tanker was reportedly carrying fuel for the Russian military.

He told the American broadcaster the July attack involved months of preparation involving both the SBU and the Ukrainian Navy. He added: “At the final stage of the preparation we could not even think about sleep or food.

“We were fully concentrated on the operation. The final last days were quite nervous. When the explosion happened, we were so happy and started congratulating one another. This was a very emotional moment for all of us and our victory, which will definitely come soon.”

Mr Maliuk said Ukraine was also responsible for the first attack on the Crimean Bridge, also known as the Kerch Bridge, last October.

Flames on the Crimean Bridge after an attack in October (AP)
Flames on the Crimean Bridge after an attack in October (AP)

Speaking of the maritime threat posed to Russia, he added: “We are working on a number of new interesting operations, including in the Black Sea waters. I promise you, it’ll be exciting, especially for our enemies.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine on Wednesday said Russian forces had attacked its grain storage facilities overnight, but a container ship left the Black Sea port of Odesa despite Moscow’s threat to target shipping after it abandoned the export deal last month.

Overnight air strikes damaged silos and warehouses at Reni on the Danube River, a vital wartime route for food exports, according to Ukrainian officials, who posted photos of destroyed storage facilities and piles of scattered grain and sunflowers.

A granary destroyed in a Russian drone attack at night is seen in a Danube port near Odesa (Odesa Regional Administration Press Office)
A granary destroyed in a Russian drone attack at night is seen in a Danube port near Odesa (Odesa Regional Administration Press Office)

There was no immediate comment from Moscow, but Russia has made regular air strikes on Ukrainian ports and grain silos since mid-July, when it pulled out of the UN-backed deal for Ukraine to export grain.

It comes as Russian troops were seen fleeing US-supplied cluster bombs in the Donetsk region, as Kyiv announced it had recaptured a key strategic settlement amid its ongoing counter-offensive against Moscow.

Footage released by the government shows cluster munitions, which spray “bomblets”, hitting Russian forces amid Kyiv’s recapturing of Urozhaine.

“Ukrainian troops have liberated Urozhaine village, Donetsk region!” the Ukrainian defence ministry posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday.

Hours after the announcement that Urozhaine had been recaptured, one of Ukraine’s top generals, Oleksandr Syrskyi, warned the situation on the Kupiansk front in the northeastern region of Kharkiv was growing more difficult.

Kupiansk was seized by Russia in the early days of the invasion before Ukrainian troops recaptured it in a lightning offensive last September.

“Due to the complication of the situation in the Kupiansk direction, I worked most of the day with units that lead the defence on the approaches to the city,” Mr Syrskyi said.

“The enemy is trying to break through the defences of our troops every day, in different directions, with assault squads consisting mainly of convicts, with the aim of blockading and then capturing Kupiansk.”

Losing Kupiansk twice would be a major blow to Kyiv’s battlefield momentum at a time when the counteroffensive has so far failed to deliver significant territorial gains, except in villages such as Urozhaine.

Elsewhere, the Lithuanian government on Wednesday said it had decided to close two of the country’s six border crossing points with Belarus due to “geopolitical circumstances”, weeks after Russian Wagner Group mercenaries took refuge in the country.

The government did not spell out its reasoning for closing the two rural crossing points, which were not used by commercial vehicles, from Friday.

Lithuanian officials have also been discouraging its citizens from travelling to Belarus, a close Russian ally, setting up signs at the borders saying: “Do not risk your safety, do not travel to Belarus. You may fail to come back.”

Senior Nato official Stian Jenssen, chief of staff to secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, has meanwhile apologised a day after he sparked anger in Kyiv by saying Ukraine could give up territory in exchange for membership.

“My statement was part of a larger discussion about possible future scenarios in Ukraine, and I shouldn’t have said it that way. It was a mistake,” he told the Norwegian newspaper, VG, which originally printed his comments.

Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, earlier said: “Trading territory for a Nato umbrella? It is ridiculous.

“That means deliberately choosing the defeat of democracy, encouraging a global criminal, preserving the Russian regime, destroying international law and passing the war on to other generations.”