Vladimir donned his £2,600 Lora Piana coat as he drove a Mercedes over the partially destroyed Crimea bridge and inspected repair works that are underway.

The Kerch Bridge – which links to annexed Crimea – was blitzed in a surprise attack in October, believed to have been carried out by Ukraine as a way of cutting Russian supply lines to the peninsular.

Footage of the Russian president’s excursion was released on the same day that in Saratov region damaging two Tu-95 planes, while another air base in Ryazan was also hit in a suspected drone attack.

Analysts have said Putin, 70, is increasingly losing control of his invasion in Ukraine, which he hoped would be over in a matter of days, if not weeks.But as it has dragged on into its tenth month, his forces have been pushed back, and Ukraine has grown increasingly confident and bold in its attacks.

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Vladimir Putin  (pictured third left) donned his £2,600 Lora Piana coat as he drove over the partially destroyed Crimea bridge and inspected repair works that are underway

Pictured: Putin is seen driving a Mercedes across the Kerch bridge in footage released by the Kremlin, as he inspected the damage done in an October attack, and subsequent repairs

The 12-mile road and rail bridge, which was personally opened by Putin in 2018, was bombed on October 8 in an attack Russia said was carried out by Ukraine.

Putin, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, was shown on state television behind the wheel of a Mercedes, asking questions about where the attack took place, and discussing the state of the bridge.

He was then pictured wearing his £2,600 Lora Piana coat while walking down the bridge.He previously wore the same coat  marking the eighth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, with commentators noting its price as Russian wages fell due to sanctions.

‘We are driving on the right hand side,’ Putin said, as he drove across the bridge.’The left side of the bridge, as I understand it, is in working condition, but nevertheless it needs to be completed. It still suffered a little, we need to bring it to an ideal state.’

Putin also walked along parts of the bridge, Europe’s largest, to inspect sections that are still visibly scorched. He spoke to construction workers who have repaired the road and rail crossing, working round the clock, said the Kremlin.

Pictured: Putin is seen (centre) listening to Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin as he visits a bridge connecting the Russian mainland with the Crimean Peninsula, December 5

Pictured: Putin is shown inspecting the Kerch Bridge on December 5, while wearing his £2,600 Lora Piana coat 

The 12-mile road and rail bridge, which was personally opened by Putin in 2018, was bombed on October 8 in an attack Russia said was carried out by Ukraine (pictured)

Pictured: Repair works are carried out on the Kerch bridge on November 19

But the visit to the bridge did not have the desired effect on all Russians who saw it.Some mocked Putin for choosing a Mercedes rather than a Russian-made car.  

One comment said: ‘A Mercedes – so patriotic, Putin.’ Another said: ‘Why is he not driving a Lada or Volga?’ 

The Crimean bridge suffered major damage in the October bombing, and Putin has been warned the Ukrainians could try and destroy it beyond repair.

The reach of the two drone attacks today – deep inside Russian territory – indicates they have the capability for more ambition attacks.

Knocking the bridge out for six months could make it harder for Putin to cling onto Crimea which he annexed in 2014, he has been warned.

Putin is overheard in footage of his visit to the bridge saying that further repairs are needed on the left side of the bridge.

Some 1,214 tonnes of metal structures were assembled to repair the bridge, with 500 workers including divers deployed around the clock.

Putin was pictured wearing his £2,600 Lora Piana coat while walking down the bridge.He previously wore the same coat during a concert on March 18 marking the eighth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, seizing the peninsular from Ukraine (pictured, March 18)

Ukraine never claimed responsibility for the bombing of the bridge on the morning of Oct.8, a day after Putin’s 70th birthday. Russia’s Federal Security Service said the attack was organised by Ukrainian military intelligence.

The explosion wrecked one section of the road bridge, temporarily halting traffic across the Kerch Strait.The blast also destroyed several fuel tankers on a train heading towards the annexed Crimean peninsula from neighbouring southern Russia.

Russia in 2014 annexed Crimea, which was transferred from Soviet Russia to Soviet Ukraine in 1954 by then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and recognised by Russia in 1994 after the collapse of the USSR.

Ukraine has vowed to return Crimea, which relies on the bridge for supplies.

Putin’s ally Arkady Rotenberg’s company built the vast meu structure, which is Europe’s longest bridge.Putin has long lauded the project, boasting at one point that Russian Tsars and Soviet leaders had dreamed of building it but never did.

Putin’s visit to the Kerch bridge came after a Russian airbase – where a major attack was being prepared against  – was hit this morning by a suspected drone attack that damaged two long-range bombers.

An explosion struck the Engels-2 airbase near the Russian city of Saratov this morning, leaving two long-range bombers damaged

The Engels-2 airbase, near the city of Saratov, was hit by an explosion in the early hours of Monday that left two Tu-95 bombers – which have been used to carry out airstrikes on Ukraine’s infrastructure – damaged.

Another explosion hit a Russian military base near the city of Ryazan, killing three and wounding five after a fuel truck detonated. 

Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for the blasts but is widely thought to be behind dozens of similar strikes on bases and supply depots on Russia’s western border.

Engels-2 and Ryazan are between 300 and 450 miles from the Ukraine border, beyond the range of Kyiv’s missiles, meaning the attack is likely to have been carried out by a drone.

Hours before the blasts, Ukrainian arms firm Ukrobonoprom claimed to have successfully tested a suicide drone with a 165lb warhead that would be capable of hitting both locations.

The explosions come after satellite images last week on Ukraine.

Pictures showed Tu-95 and Tu-160 planes being refueled and armed with cruise missiles, as analysts warned a ‘large scale’ attack on Ukraine and its vulnerable energy networks was likely to be ‘imminent’. 

It comes just days after an in the Russian border region of Bryansk in an attack thought to have been orchestrated by Kyiv. A spoke out in November in the settlement of Stalnoi Kon’.

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