A bridge across the Siversky Donets River in Stanytsia Luganskaya, eastern Ukraine, was destroyed in a powerful explosion, the Kiev-appointed governor of the Lugansk region, Hennadiy Moskal, has said.
"At around 6:00 p.m. yesterday, the Ukrainian army's positions near the bridge over the Siversky Donets in Stanytsia Luganskaya came under sniper fire […] After [Ukrainian soldiers] fired in response, a shootout erupted between the two sides using automatic weapons, machine-guns, grenade launchers and mortars. During the armed clash, a powerful explosion occurred at the center of the bridge, which then crashed into the river. At the moment, neither vehicles nor pedestrians are able to use this bridge," Moskal's press service reported on Friday.
This bridge in Stanytsia Luganskaya was partially blown up in January 16, and militia forces of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People's Republic (LNR) tried to set up a checkpoint on the bridge on March 16, the press service said.
The bridge was officially closed to traffic by the Ukrainian administration at the beginning of 2015.
For his part, head of the LNR volunteer police headquarters Sergei Kozlov has blamed a car bombing for the destruction of the bridge, which links the Lugansk People's Republic and Kiev-controlled parts of Ukraine.
"At around 7:00 p.m. yesterday, on March 19, Ukrainian government forces staged an act of sabotage on the bridge across the Siversky Donets River near the village of Stanytsia Luganskaya. It was preceded by mortar fire. Up to 20 grenades were launched. Small arms were fired as well. But the bridge was destroyed when a Ford car packed with explosives was blown up on it," Kozlov told a press briefing on Friday.
"A Moskvich car earlier exploded on this bridge. As a result, the bridge was damaged and only passenger cars were able to use it," he said.
The LNR authorities do not want transport links between the self-proclaimed republic and the rest of Ukraine to be disrupted, Kozlov said.
As the bridge in Stanytsia Luganskaya was destroyed, there is now only one transport corridor linking the LNR and the rest of Ukraine, he said.
"The Lugansk-Stanytsia Luganskaya-Shyrokine corridor has now been destroyed. Only one corridor for communicating with Ukraine remains - Lugansk-Shchastya-Novoaidar," he said.
On January 11, Kiev toughened border crossing rules between Donbas and the rest of Ukraine, Kozlov said.
At that time, seven transport corridors were established, including three in the territory of the LNR.
"One of them - Fashchevka-Debaltseve-Artemivsk - is now the territory of the DNR [self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic]. Only two transport links between Luhansk and Ukraine were left," Kozlov said.
The decision to deploy UK military instructions in Ukraine will negatively affect efforts to settle the conflict in the south-east of Ukraine, Russian Ambassador to London Alexander Yakovenko has said.
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