Russia says Ukraine attacked Crimea bridge with anti-aircraft missiles

Russian officials announced that they shot down two converted S-200 missiles used by Ukraine to target the bridge connecting the Crimean peninsula with the Krasnodar region.

“Air defense forces shot down two enemy missiles over the Kerch Strait. The Crimean bridge was not damaged,” Sergei Aksyonov, the head of the Crimean government appointed by Russia, announced on Telegram today.

The Russian Defense Ministry later said that the Ukrainian military used two converted S-200 anti-aircraft missiles fitted with guidance devices in the attack. “Russian air defense systems detected and intercepted the target in time. No damage or casualties were reported,” the agency said.

Pictures posted on Russian social media show the Crimean bridge covered with columns of white smoke. Oleg Kryuchkov, Aksenov’s adviser, explained that Russian forces had sprayed smoke to protect the bridge from missiles.

Traffic across the Crimean Bridge has been suspended, but is expected to resume shortly.

The Russian Defense Ministry earlier announced that air defenses had shot down at least 20 Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that were targeting various locations on the peninsula, calling it a “terrorist attack.” There were no casualties or damage to infrastructure in the drone strike.

Ukrainian officials have not commented on the reports. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky once claimed that the Crimean bridge built by Russia was a military target, so Ukraine had to disable the construction.

The S-200 air defense missile system uses large V-860 and V-880 ammunition, more than 9 meters long, weighing about 7 tons, carrying a fragmentation warhead weighing 217 kg. The S-200 complex was designed by the Soviet Union in 1964 and commissioned in 1967, most likely modified by Ukraine to be able to conduct raids at large distances while waiting for the West to provide long-range missiles. 

This missile is not much different from ground attack systems. Large bullet size and powerful warhead can hit ground targets at long distances. The fuel remaining in the tank when the missile hits the target will cause a fire, even leading to secondary explosions later.

Although the nearly 60-year-old converted S-200 cannot be as accurate as the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) launched from the US HIMARS rocket, this weapon can still help Ukraine launch strikes—long-range raids with low cost and abundant stockpiles.

Ukraine is also not bound when using S-200 to attack Russian territory with weapons aided by the West.

The last time the Crimean Bridge was attacked was on July 17, when the drone boat exploded, killing two people and damaging part of the bridge structure. Western media quoted a source in the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) as saying the attack was a “special operation of the SBU and navy.”

Russia annexed Crimea after a referendum in 2014. Moscow says the referendum results show most Crimeans want to be part of Russia, but Kyiv and the West view the move. This is illegal. Ukraine vowed to take back Crimea “by all means,” including military means.