Morning Brief

Foreign Policy’s flagship daily newsletter with what’s coming up around the world today. Delivered weekdays.

Putin Seeks Revenge After Kerch Bridge Explosion

The blast dealt a strategic blow a day after the Russian leader’s birthday. Now, he’s retaliating.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
A helicopter pours water on the Kerch Bridge.
A helicopter pours water on the Kerch Bridge.
A firefighter helicopter pours water on a burning train on the Kerch Bridge that links Crimea to Russia on Oct. 8. AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re following the massive explosion on the Kerch Strait Bridge, Iran’s hack attack, and Haiti’s efforts to curb spiraling gang violence.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Russia Retaliates by Striking Kyiv

Welcome to today’s Morning Brief, where we’re following the massive explosion on the Kerch Strait Bridge, Iran’s hack attack, and Haiti’s efforts to curb spiraling gang violence.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Russia Retaliates by Striking Kyiv

Russian President Vladimir Putin suffered an embarrassing battlefield setback when a massive explosion rocked the symbolic Kerch Strait Bridge the day after his birthday, sending a section crashing into the sea and further undermining his already faltering military campaign. 

On Monday morning, Russia retaliated by launching a barrage of missiles at central Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital for the first time in months. The missiles hit during the morning rush hour and appear to have struck near a number of civilian targets—including a popular park, a busy intersection, and Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Ukrainian officials said at least eight people in Kyiv were killed. Russian strikes also targeted the Ukrainian cities of Lviv, Ternopil, Zaporizhzhia, and Dnipro.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded by urging Ukrainians to take shelter: They are trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth. Please, do not leave shelters. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Let’s hold on and be strong.”

Why Kerch matters. The 12-mile-long bridge—which Putin was heavily invested in constructing after the annexation of Crimea and which he once described as a “miracle”—was the only one connecting Russia to the Crimean Peninsula and served as a crucial supply transportation route to front-line Russian forces. Severe damages could imperil Putin’s war effort—although the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said the blast would likely have more of a logistical impact“The explosion will not permanently disrupt critical Russian ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Crimea, but its aftermath is likely to increase friction in Russian logistics for some time,” ISW wrote

The explosion, which reportedly killed three people, marked a humiliating symbolic and strategic setback to Putin. Already, he has come under mounting pressure as Ukrainian forces rapidly retake occupied territory, hundreds of thousands of military-age men rush to escape Russia, and a close ally reportedly challenges him over the war’s direction. 

Putin quickly blamed Kyiv, declaring that there was “no doubt” that this was an act of terrorism perpetrated by Ukrainian forces. Kyiv, in turn, has not assumed responsibility, though a top official told the New York Times that Ukrainian forces planned the attack.

Ukrainian officials also publicly rejoiced at the blast, with Oleksiy Danilov, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council chief, tweeting a video of the bridge engulfed in flames while former actress Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” The Ukrainian government account was more brief, simply tweeting: “sick burn.” 

Demands for retaliation. Before Monday’s strikes, Russian officials and other hard-liners were already demanding a brutal retaliation. Putin unleashed a fresh round of missile strikes against residential neighborhoods in Zaporizhzhia on Sunday. The assault killed at least 13 people and wounded dozens more.

“These areas have no military purpose,” said Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “The only goal of Russia’s deliberate attacks was to cause death and destruction to civilian people, sow terror and fear.”

Putin has also tightened security alongside the bridge and appointed a new military commander: Sergei Surovikin, an experienced general with a ruthless track record from Syria, Tajikistan, and Chechnya. 


The World This Week 

Monday, Oct. 10: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz meets Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Rafael Grossi is expected to visit Russia this week.

Tuesday, Oct. 11: The United Nations General Assembly elects new members to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Wednesday, Oct. 12: NATO defense ministers meet.

Thursday, Oct. 13: Ukraine’s president addresses the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Vanuatu holds snap parliamentary elections.

Friday, Oct. 14: Scholz hosts Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa.


What We’re Following Today

Iran’s hack attack. Hackers took control of an Iranian state television channel for 15 seconds on Saturday night to broadcast a video of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei engulfed in fire and the messages “Join us and stand up!” and “The blood of our youth is dripping from your claws” over the ongoing protests. A hacker organization called Edalat-e Ali seemed to be behind the attack. 

The hack came as Iran’s unrest stretches into its fourth week and authorities reportedly arrested protesting students inside of schools. 

Haiti’s spiraling instability. Haiti has appealed for a “specialized armed force” from partner countries to help curb surging gang violence, economic instability, and a cholera outbreak, according to officials. The government did not specify which nations it is seeking help from. 

As more cholera cases are reported, the United Nations urged the creation of a humanitarian corridor last Thursday to enable the entry of fuel into Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital. “Without fuel, there is no clean water. Without clean water, there will be more cases and very difficult to contain this outbreak,” said Ulrika Richardson, the U.N. deputy special representative in Haiti. 


Keep an Eye On

Hong Kong’s crackdown. Hong Kong has sentenced five teenagers to up to three years in a detention facility for calling for an “armed revolution.” They were members of a group that supported Hong Kong’s independence from China and are the first people under the age of 18 to be detained under the new national security law

U.S.-Taliban meeting. Senior U.S. officials met with Taliban leaders in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday, CNN reported. It was their first in-person meeting since the Biden administration ordered a drone strike operation to then-al Qaeda leader kill Ayman al-Zawahiri in July. 


This Weekend’s Most Read

Liz Truss’s Britain Is a Morbid Symptom of the World’s New Era by Adam Tooze

How Far Will Xi Go to Help a Desperate Putin? by Craig Singleton

Can Vague U.S. Threats Deter Russia From Using Nukes? by Emma Ashford and Matthew Kroenig


Odds and Ends 

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko celebrated Putin’s 70th birthday on Friday by gifting him a tractor—one that is similar to the type of tractor that he also owns, he told reporters. It is unclear if the Russian president liked the present. 

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

Join the Conversation

Commenting on this and other recent articles is just one benefit of a Foreign Policy subscription.

Already a subscriber? .

Join the Conversation

Join the conversation on this and other recent Foreign Policy articles when you subscribe now.

Not your account?

Join the Conversation

Please follow our comment guidelines, stay on topic, and be civil, courteous, and respectful of others’ beliefs.

You are commenting as .

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.