Five Russians are among eight suspects detained in connection with the explosion that has gnarled rail and vehicle traffic on the $3.6 billion Crimea bridge, Russia’s domestic intelligence service said Wednesday.
Ukraine’s military intelligence agency was behind the attack Saturday on the 12-mile bridge, Europe’s longest, the FSB said in a statement. Ukraine authorities have lauded the incident but have not formally accepted responsibility for the blast, which Russia says killed three people.
“At the moment, five citizens of Russia, three citizens of Ukraine and Armenia, who participated in the preparation of the crime, have been detained as part of a criminal case,” the FSB said, adding that several other suspects were involved in the plan.
The FSB said the explosives were shipped out of the Ukrainian city of Odesa in August, and three Ukrainians, two Georgians and an Armenian national were behind the plan to arrange the delivery from Bulgaria through Georgia into Russia.
A Ukrainian citizen and the five detained Russians had prepared documents for a non-existent Crimean firm to receive the explosives, the agency said. The investigation was continuing.
►NATO defense ministers were meeting Wednesday in Brussels to coordinate plans for providing Ukraine with more weaponry.
►Russian President Vladimir Putin was meeting Wednesday with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Kazakhstan on the sidelines of a regional summit, Kremlin spokesman Dmitriy Peskov said. Erdoğan has offered to host talks between Russia and the West.
Putin blames US for pipeline blasts, says Russia ready to resume gas flow
Putin said Wednesday that Russia is ready to restart the flow of gas to Europe over the single remaining link of the Nord Stream gas pipelines – and again blamed the U.S. for blasts that crippled the system. German government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann rejected the proposal, saying Russia has been an unreliable gas supplier since the war began.
European authorities are investigating the explosions that ripped through both links of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline and one of the two links of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. U.S. officials have dismissed Putin’s claim that the U.S. wanted to disrupt the flow to encourage Europe to import more expensive liquefied natural gas.
Experts discuss Putin’s threat to use nukes in Ukraine
What does Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons mean for the security of millions of people in Ukraine and around the world, including the United States, which Russian nuclear-tipped missiles can easily reach?
USA TODAY spoke to Mowatt-Larssen, a former CIA official and a host of other nuclear security experts and analysts for answers. All of those experts agreed with Biden’s assessment that the current situation is fraught with potential danger, including if an increasingly cornered Putin decides to deploy one of the smaller nuclear weapons in his massive arsenal. Here is what else the experts had to say.
– Josh Meyer, USA TODAY
Ukraine receives artillery, air defense systems from US, Germany
Ukraine has received its first IRIS-T air defense system from Germany and four more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems from the U.S., Ukraine Foreign Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Wednesday. The deliveries were expedited after Russian missiles pounded cities across Ukraine on Monday in retaliation for a truck bomb that damaged a crucial, Russian-built bridge in Crimea.
The U.S. also announced plans to send Ukraine eight National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS); two are expected to be delivered soon.
“A new era of air defense has begun,” Reznikov tweeted. “There is a moral imperative to protect the sky over in order to save our people.”
Kremlin blasts plan to rebuild Ukraine with frozen Russian assets
A Group of Seven (G-7) proposal to use frozen Russian assets to finance the rebuilding of Ukraine drew sharp criticism from Moscow.
“It’s just pure international racketeering,” Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday.
The G-7 statement released after Tuesday’s virtual meeting called for “ensuring Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction, including exploring avenues to do so with funds from Russia.” After the invasion began in February, the West imposed sanctions against the Bank of Russia. In addition to freezing Russia’s gold and foreign exchange reserves, all transactions related to the management of reserves and assets of the Bank of Russia, as well as transactions with any legal entity fell under the ban.