Russian President Vladimir Putin drove a car across the Crimean bridge Monday, two months after it was severely damaged in a truck bombing Russian officials blamed on a Ukrainian terrorist attack.
Putin drove with Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who oversaw the bridge reconstruction, and spoke with some of the 500 workers at the site. Repairs on the railroad portion of the bridge are expected to be completed in 6-7 months, authorities said.
Ukraine hinted at responsibility for the attack but never fully acknowledged involvement. Russian authorities blamed Ukraine's intelligence service and responded with several waves of missile and drone strikes that have battered Ukraine's energy facilities and other key infrastructure.
The bridge links Russia's mainland with the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Ukraine officials have vowed to take back Crimea.
ONLY 25% OF RUSSIANS SUPPORT WAR: Ukraine wants price cap on Russian oil cut in half
►Global oil prices rose Monday as a West-imposed $60-per-barrel limit on Russian oil took effect. Russia said it would cut production before accepting the cap. India was among countries saying it would continue paying for Russian oil - though at a discount from the international benchmark Brent crude price of $87.30 per barrel.
►The Financial Times named Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy its person of the year for 2022. "I am more responsible than brave," he told FT.
Explosions rock Russian bases
Explosions rocked two air bases in western Russia on Monday, including a base that houses nuclear-capable bombers involved in launching strikes against Ukraine, Russian media reported. The Ukraine military said Ukraine forces were not involved in the attacks, both more than 500 miles from the Ukraine border.
Russian state RIA Novosti news agency said three servicemen were killed, six were injured and a plane was damaged when a fuel truck exploded at an air base in Ryazan, in western Russia. The base houses long-range flight tankers that serve to refuel bombers in the air.
Authorities in the Saratov region said an explosion struck the area of the Engels air base, which houses Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers that have been involved in launching strikes on Ukraine. Those bombers are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. The Ukraine military said it had reports that two Russian servicemen were injured and two planes damaged.
"No matter how much the enemy wants (to blame Ukraine forces), we haven't started anything yet," said Yuriy Ignat, the spokesman of the Ukraine Air Force Command. "They have to scratch their heads, think, how and who did it, how did it happen?"
Odesa's 1 million people without water after Russian missile strike
Cities across Ukraine faced another bombardment of Russian missiles Monday, prompting widespread power outages and leaving Odesa, a city of almost 1 million people, without running water. Air raid alerts sounded across the country, and authorities urged people to take shelter.
Ukrenergo, which supplies electricity for the entire nation, said emergency blackouts began almost everywhere but that efforts to restore power began immediately. In Odesa, the local water supply company said a missile strike cut power to pumping stations, shutting down the entire system.
"Russians are terrorists who have nothing to do with civilization and human values!" Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president's office, wrote on Telegram.
Germany will upgrade military to counter Russian threat
The German government will soon unveil a new national security strategy aimed at becoming one of the main providers of security in Europe in the face of Russian aggression, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an article for the Foreign Affairs magazine. He warned that current threats include assaults on allied territory, cyberwarfare, and even the "remote chance" of a nuclear attack.
The plan calls for strengthening the European defense industry, beefing up the military presence on NATO's eastern flank and training and equipping Ukraine's armed forces, Scholz said. He confirmed his government's plans to buy U.S. F-35 fighter jets.
"For the last three decades, decisions regarding Germany's security and the equipment of the country's armed forces were taken against the backdrop of a Europe at peace," Scholz wrote. "Now, the guiding question will be which threats we and our allies must confront in Europe, most immediately from Russia."
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ukraine live updates: Putin drives across bombed-out Crimean bridge