Putin Inspects Crimean Bridge Damaged By Explosion

President Vladimir V. Putin inspected repairs to a bridge that links the country with the Crimean Peninsula on Monday, two months after an explosion partly destroyed it in an embarrassing blow to the Russian leader and Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine.

The October attack on the Kerch Strait Bridge, a pet project of Mr. Putin’s that became a key supply route for Moscow’s forces in southern Ukraine, was a critical moment in the war. The Kremlin accused Ukraine of orchestrating the blast, which underscored Russia’s inability to protect a key strategic asset and prompted Moscow to unleash a wave of airstrikes on Ukraine.

Video published by the Kremlin showed Mr. Putin driving a Mercedes car over the bridge. Accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who is in charge of the repair, Mr. Putin inquired about the progress of the work and said he hoped the road and rail bridge would be fully restored by the middle of the summer vacation season.

Pointing at the still-charred railway section of the bridge, he said that “this was a big explosion.”

When the bridge opened in 2018, it was a powerful symbol of the connection the Kremlin was attempting to forge between Russia and Crimea, a Ukrainian region illegally annexed by Moscow four years earlier. Mr. Putin took personal credit for its construction, driving a truck along its 12-mile span at the head of a convoy.

On Monday, he also took credit for building two railway tracks and two traffic lanes each way, as the redundancy allowed traffic to be partially restored soon after the explosion hit in October.

While Ukraine’s government did not claim responsibility for the blast, which sent part of the bridge crashing into the sea on Oct. 8, a senior Ukrainian official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of a government ban on discussing the blast, confirmed that Ukraine’s intelligence services were behind it.

The Kerch attack came during a period of setbacks for Russian forces in Ukraine, including the loss of territory it had captured in the northeast of the country. Two days after the attack on the bridge, Russia escalated a strategy of pounding Ukraine’s energy infrastructure with waves of missiles launched at power stations and other facilities.

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