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Attack on the Crimean bridge: causes, consequences and video in five questions and answers

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What is known about the explosion on the bridge connecting mainland Russia with the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Moscow in 2014, is under the gun of the Ukrainian army, which considers it a symbol of Russian oppression.

What happened?

This Saturday at 6:00 am (two hours more than in Portugal), a truck bomb exploded on the roadway of the bridge across the Kerch Strait from the side of the Taman Peninsula and set fire to seven fuel tanks plying along the rails. board. The report of the National Anti-Terrorism Committee, cited by the RIA-Novosti agency, says that the fire was extinguished and led to the “partial collapse” of two road sections of the bridge. No one was injured in the explosion and the fire is believed to have been extinguished.

The circulation on the bridge remains interrupted, but navigation in the strait is not completely disrupted. But material damage is visible in the published pictures.

Crimean Governor Sergei Aksyonov has already said that restoration work will begin as soon as the investigation into the causes of the explosion is completed.

Who caused the explosion?

So far, no one has claimed responsibility for the explosion. On the Russian side, Crimean parliament leader Vladimir Konstantinov points the finger at “Ukrainian vandals”, a Russian MNE spokesman speaks of “terrorist acts” instigated by Ukraine, and other Russian officials are more cautious in their statements. However, the Ukrainian army has repeatedly considered the bridge, built by Moscow in 2018, as a military facility.

For Mykhailo Podolyak, one of the advisers to the Ukrainian president, the explosion is “the beginning.” On Saturday, Podoliak tweeted that “everything illegal must be destroyed, everything stolen must be returned to Ukraine, everything occupied by Russia must be expelled,” he added. with images of a burning bridge, the soundtrack to which was the Marilyn Monroe song “Congratulations, Mr. President”, hinting at yesterday’s 70th birthday of Vladimir Putin.

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How important is the bridge?

The project of the Kerch Bridge, about 19 km long and higher than the Statue of Liberty for the occupied peninsula, became the pearl of Vladimir Putin’s infrastructure projects, described in the media of the regime as “a structure from the __ century.” Opening it in May 2018, the President of Russia emphasized its importance: “In different historical eras, even under the tsars, people dreamed of building this bridge. they went back to it [ideia] in the 1930s, 40s, 50s, and finally, thanks to your work and talent, a miracle happened, ”says The Guardian.

The construction of the bridge, which in practice consists of two parallel bridges, one railway and one road, took three years, and since its completion, according to Russian statistics, about 15 million cars will pass through it. According to RIA Novosti, the longest bridge in Europe allows the passage of 40,000 vehicles per day, 14 million passengers and 13 million tons of cargo annually.

How important is this connection with Crimea?

First, it was a symbolic element, proof of the strength of Putin and Moscow. Not only for its design (see above), but also for its alleged immunity. Just three months ago, the Russian authorities guaranteed its impregnability, because of the 20 different defense modes that covered it, including military dolphins.

This morning’s attack reinforces the idea of ​​Russia’s military failure precisely in the region it managed to annex (without any international recognition other than its biggest allies) in 2014.

From a military point of view, it also seems to be central: the only link between the Russian mainland and the Crimean peninsula is considered vital for Russian logistics operations in the current conflict, as it is a road-rail bridge that allows not only the movement of goods, but also troops and military equipment .

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According to The Guardian, the bridge has been an important supply line not only for Russian troops in occupied Crimea, but also elsewhere in southern Ukraine where Russian troops are retreating even as a “main line”. railway line to Melitopol.

Military expert Michael Clarke told Sky News that the bridge is “the only link between Russia and Crimea that does not pass through Ukraine.” And that now the Russians are faced with the need to deliver supplies “by sea to Mariupol, and then they will have to use the only serviceable railway line, which is now located not far from the Ukrainian artillery.” “This will give Ukraine two to three weeks of head start until this is corrected,” added an expert at the same station.

And now? How will Moscow respond?

There is still no clue in various public statements emanating from the Kremlin or Crimea, but the Russian leader has warned several times that he will defend all annexed territories “by all means.” fearing that Putin would admit to using tactical nuclear weapons to prove his strength and renew his offensive in Ukraine. Under internal pressure in the face of the failures of recent weeks, the Russian Telegram channel already has some openly defending it:

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Villarrica already has a large lava lake and high seismic activity.

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The Villarrica volcano in La Araucanía, Chile, one of the largest in the world, showed signs of an impending eruption last Thursday, and experts recorded a “greater intensity and height of incandescence” that ranged from 80 to 220 meters above sea level. its crater – a few days ago we managed to fly over the volcano and a large lava lake was recorded, the temperature of which reached 1043 degrees. High seismic activity has also been noted. Chile’s National Geological and Mining Service (Sernageomin) has already issued a yellow alert.

In any case, the experts of the Chilean government spoke in detail about the possibility of an eruption. According to Sernageomina, “small explosions are expected inside the crater, the impact of which is limited to an area close to the crater of the volcano.”

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Germany: Rise of respiratory infections in infants baffles hospitals – News

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The Association for Intensive Care Medicine (DIVI in German acronym) has indicated that the seasonal rise in cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the shortage of nurses are causing a “catastrophic situation” in hospitals.

RSV is a common and highly contagious virus that affects almost all babies and children under two years of age, and some of them can become seriously ill.

Experts say easing restrictions put in place to fight the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to more babies and children with RSV, whose immune systems are not ready to fight the virus.

According to the same source, hospital doctors are currently facing very difficult decisions about which sick children to hospitalize due to a lack of available beds.

In some cases, patients with RSV and other serious illnesses are being transferred to hospitals in regions of Germany where there are even fewer resources for intensive care.

The association warned that a recent study identified fewer than a hundred pediatric beds across the country and the situation could get worse.

Sebastian Brenner, head of pediatric intensive care at Dresden University Hospital, told German TV channel N-Tv that the situation could worsen in the coming weeks: “We are seeing this in Switzerland and France,” he added. about the risks of available treatments become even more scarce.

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach announced today that the government will loosen some rules to ease the transfer of nurses and will allocate another 600 million euros to pediatric hospitals over the next two years.

In November, the European Commission approved the world’s first single-dose drug for the treatment of RSV.

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Lavrov accused the US and NATO of direct participation in the conflict

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Lavrov stressed that the increase in Russian missile strikes is aimed at “destroying power plants,” infrastructures that “allow them to continue to send deadly weapons to Ukraine to destroy the Russians.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this Thursday accused the West, especially the United States and NATO, of being directly involved in conflict in Ukraine by providing weapons and training Ukrainian soldiers.

Lavrov stressed that Russia’s attacks on Ukrainian power plants and other key infrastructure, which left millions of people without electricity, heat and water, were aimed at “weakening the military potential” of Ukraine and “making it impossible to send Western weapons.”

“It cannot be said that the US and NATO [Organização do Tratado do Atlântico Norte] do not participate in this war. They are directly involved in this,” Lavrov told reporters at a video press conference.

“And they not only supply weapons, but also train soldiers. They do it in the UK, Germany, Italy and other countries,” he added.

Lavrov stressed that the increase in Russian missile strikes is aimed at “destroying power plants,” infrastructures that “allow them to continue to send deadly weapons to Ukraine to destroy the Russians.”

“The infrastructure targeted by the attacks is used to ensure the combat potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and nationalist battalions,” Lavrov said.

Ukraine and the West have accused Moscow of attacking vital civilian infrastructure in order to “humiliate morale and force Ukraine to negotiate peace on Russia’s terms.”

Lavrov insisted that Moscow remain open to negotiations to end the conflict.

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“We have never asked for negotiations, but we have always said that we are ready to listen to those who are interested in concluding an agreement,” Lavrov said.

The Kremlin has called on Ukraine to recognize Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014, as part of Russia, as well as other gains made since the entry of troops into eastern Ukraine on February 24 this year to combat the “militarization” and “Nazization” of the region.

When asked about the possibility of a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the United States Joe Biden, the head of Russian diplomacy replied that Moscow “has always been available” for such a meeting, adding, however, that “no serious thought has yet been voiced.

Lavrov said that US counterpart Anthony Blinken raised the issue of US citizens trapped in Russia in a telephone conversation, but noted that Putin and Biden agreed to set up a separate communication channel to discuss the issue during their meeting in Geneva. in June 2021.

“It works, and I hope that some results will be achieved,” he said.

For months, the Biden administration tried to negotiate the release of North American basketball star Britney Greener and Paul Whelan, a corporate security chief from Michigan, for which it proposed a prisoner exchange format with Moscow.

Commenting on Russia’s decision to postpone a round of talks with the United States on nuclear arms control, scheduled for this week, Lavrov said that “it is impossible to discuss strategic stability today if everything that happens in Ukraine is ignored.”

“The goal has been declared and it is to defeat Russia on the battlefield or even destroy Russia. How can the goal of defeating Russia be irrelevant to strategic stability if they want to destroy a key actor of strategic stability?” Lavrov replied.

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During a press video conference that lasted about two and a half hours, Lavrov also criticized the United States and its NATO allies, accusing them of “trampling international law by trying to isolate and destroy Russia.”

Lavrov concluded by also accusing Washington of encouraging other countries, including India, to cut off relations with Russia.

“These attempts failed,” he concluded.

Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine has already caused the flight of more than 13 million people – more than six million internally displaced people and more than 7.8 million to European countries – according to the latest figures from the UN, which classifies the refugee crisis as the worst in Europe since World War II ( 1939-1945).

The Russian invasion, justified by President Vladimir Putin as the need to “denazify” and “demilitarize” Ukraine for Russia’s security, was condemned by the international community at large, which responded by sending weapons to Kyiv and imposing sanctions. Moscow authorities.

Until Wednesday, the UN had presented 6,655 civilian deaths and 10,368 injured civilians as confirmed since the start of the war, emphasizing that these numbers are much lower than the real ones.

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