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Ukraine strikes Chonhar bridge to Crimea, RIA reports

(Reuters) – The Chonhar road bridge linking mainland Ukraine to Crimea was damaged by a Ukrainian missile strike on Sunday, Russia’s RIA news agency cited the Moscow-appointed head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, as saying.

RIA cited acting Kherson regional governor Vladimir Saldo — another Moscow appointee — as saying the strike on the bridge, one of three road links between Crimea and mainland Ukraine, involved an Anglo-French Storm Shadow missile. He did not provide any evidence.

Both officials said the bridge was closed for repairs.

In June Ukraine struck the same bridge, which lies on a route used by the Russian military to move between Crimea and other parts of Ukraine under its control.

Saldo also wrote in his Telegram channel that another of the road links, a small bridge across the Tonky Strait linking the town of Henichesk with the narrow Arabat Spit on Crimea’s northeast coast, had been shelled and that a civilian driver had been wounded. It was not clear whether traffic on the bridge had been suspended.

He said a gas pipeline running alongside the bridge serving Henichesk, the temporary administrative centre of the Russian-controlled part of the Kherson region, had also been damaged, leaving more than 20,000 people without gas.

The attacks are making it increasingly hard to get on and off the peninsula, which Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014 and is of military importance to Moscow as well as a popular tourist destination for Russians.

On July 17, an attack attributed by Ukrainian media to Ukrainian sea drones damaged the Russian-built Crimean Bridge, which links the peninsula eastward to southern Russia, for the second time in less than a year, severely restricting road traffic during the summer holiday season.

In the early hours of Saturday, a Ukrainian sea drone full of explosives damaged a Russian fuel tanker near the Crimean Bridge, the second such attack in 24 hours.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Alex Richardson and Hugh Lawson)