| 1 December 2023, Friday |

Russian tourists flee Crimea after attack on landmark bridge

In the run-up to Monday’s attack on Russia’s road and rail bridge to Crimea, state TV broadcast footage of long traffic jams in southern Russia as tourists waited in their cars for hours to cross over to start their summer holidays.

After explosions tore through the road bridge, killing a couple who had planned to holiday in Crimea and wounding their daughter, it broadcast traffic jams going in a different direction as tourists tried to drive home through Russian-controlled southern Ukraine, territory that Kyiv is fighting to take back.

State-run news agency RIA said a tailback of more than 5 km (3 miles) had formed as Russian tourists made for home – using the Chonhar bridge, which was briefly put out of action by a missile attack last month.

Moscow blamed the attack on the Crimean bridge, the second since Russia sent its armed forces into Ukraine, on Kyiv. Ukraine did not officially claim responsibility, but Ukrainian media said Ukrainian security services had deployed maritime drones.

The Russian-appointed governor of Ukraine’s Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo, told state television that air defence and other security measures would be stepped up on the overland corridor to Crimea.

But it remains to be seen whether this will reassure the tourists whom the state has been trying to attract to the Black Sea peninsula, which Russia seized and unilaterally annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

At a time when Russians’ options to holiday in the West are limited because of visa bans and flight restrictions, the attack deals a blow to the idea, pushed by Moscow, that a peninsula famed for its rugged landscape, scenic bays, warm weather and wines can be enjoyed safely.

  • Reuters