Even as official Ukrainian sources stated that fighting had intensified in the southern sector near Bakhmut, an explosion hit the bridge connecting Crimea with the mainland before dawn today.
The blast killed a couple, seriously injured their daughter and left a span of the roadway hanging perilously. The damage initially appeared to be less severe than that caused by a blast in October, but highlighted the bridge's vulnerability.
The bridge connecting Russia-annexed Crimea and Russia carries heavy significance for Moscow both logistically and psychologically, as a key artery for Russian military and civilian supplies bound for Crimea and as an assertion of Russia's control of the peninsula.
Russia blamed Ukraine for both today's blast and the October explosion. A spokesman for the Ukrainian Security Service did not directly acknowledge responsibility but said the service would reveal details about organising the blast once Ukraine achieves victory in the war.
Ukraine last month began its highly anticipated fightback after stockpiling Western weapons and building up its offensive forces.
It has however admitted difficult battles and called on the United States and other allies to provide long-range weapons and artillery.
Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Malyar said "the situation has somewhat intensified in the east".
In a televised interview broadcasted yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Ukrainian military made no progress.
"All enemy attempts to break through our defences ... they have not succeeded since the offensive began. The enemy is not successful," Putin said.
Putin drove across the bridge at its formal opening. Putin is also closely connected to construction tycoon Arkady Rotenberg, whose company got the contract for the bridge.
The 19-km (12-mile) bridge over the Kerch Strait that links the Black and Azov seas carries both road and rail traffic on separate sections and is vital to sustaining Russia's military operations in southern Ukraine.
The Crimean peninsula extends south from Ukraine's mainland, with road connections on two isthmuses, one of which is less that two kilometres (one mile) wide, and by a bridge from a narrow spit. All three connections to Ukraine go into territory occupied by Russian forces that come under attack from the Ukrainian military.
The bridge, which connects Crimea's eastern extremity with Russia's Krasnodar region, provides the only fixed link that steers clear of hotly disputed territory.
The bridge is the longest in Europe and a subject of considerable pride in Russia. Construction began in 2016, about two years after Russia annexed Crimea, and was completed in little more than two years. The pace of construction was impressive, but led some critics to question whether it was hastily designed and built.
The bridge was built despite strong objections from Ukraine and is the most visible and constant reminder of Russia's claim that Crimea is legitimately Russian.