Russia unleashed a fatal volley of strikes against various Ukrainian cities Monday, including downtown Kyiv, where at least eight people were murdered amid burnt-out automobiles and damaged buildings.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, said the strikes were reprisal for Kyiv’s “terrorist” acts. He was referring to Ukraine’s attempts to reject Moscow’s invasion force and disrupt their supply lines.
Last weekend, a Kremlin-prized bridge between Russia and Crimea was attacked.
The hours-long strike represented a military escalation by Moscow against Ukraine. Putin termed the explosion on the bridge connecting Russia to Crimea a “terrorist act” on Sunday.
At least eight people were murdered and 24 were injured in only one of the Kyiv attacks, according to preliminary evidence.
Putin said Russia unleashed “precise weapons” from the air, sea, and ground to attack energy and military command installations.
The missile attacks were Russia’s strongest in months. Putin, whose partial mobilization order earlier this month provoked an exodus of fighting-age males from Russia, stopped short of proclaiming martial law or a counterterrorism operation.
The relentless onslaught on major cities targeted residential areas and important infrastructure facilities, portending a dramatic rise in the war amid a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive and raising questions about Russia’s intentions.
Moscow’s conflict in Ukraine is nearing eight months, and it has suffered humiliating battlefield blows in eastern Ukraine.
Mayor Vitali Klitschko said blasts hit Kyiv’s Shevchenko neighborhood, which encompasses the historic old town and administrative offices.
Some strikes hit near the government quarter, where Parliament and other sites are located. The tower’s blue-tinted windows were blown out.
Bloody residents were observed in the streets. A medic bandaged the head of a blue-jacketed young man. Bandaged woman had blood on her blouse. Cars were damaged or destroyed. The country and Kyiv blasted air raid sirens.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated Russian forces launched dozens of missiles and drones.
The Ukraine Armed Forces General Staff claimed 41 of 75 missiles fired towards Ukrainian targets were neutralized.
Zelenskyy stated in a video address that 10 cities were targeted. Zelenskyy said the Russians chose the moment and targets to cause the most damage.
Kyiv citizens returned to bomb shelters after months due to morning attacks. The subway system stopped trains and created stations refuges.
In Kyiv and other locations where there has been months of peace, Ukrainians have begun to ignore air raid sirens and go about their business.
Monday altered that. The attacks hit Kyiv as rush hour began. One of the cars struck near Kyiv National University looked to be a commuter minivan, known as a “marshrutka”
One strike fell in Shevchenko Park, causing a massive hole near a playground.
Glass-paneled Klitschko bridge, a Kyiv landmark, was hit. An assistant to Ukraine’s interior minister published CCTV evidence of a bridge explosion. After the explosion, a man observed on the bridge before flees.
Lesia Vasylenko, a Ukrainian lawmaker, tweeted a photo showing an explosion near Kyiv National University.
Russia attacked civilian areas and energy infrastructure across Ukraine for four hours, save in Russia-annexed Crimea.
Associated Press journalists in Dnipro city spotted multiple dead at an industrial location. Broken windows dotted the roadway. Telecom building hit.
Ukrainian media reported explosions in Lviv, Kharkiv, Ternopil, Khmelnytskyi, Zhytomyr, and Kropyvnyi.
Ihor Terekhov stated Kharkiv was hit three times. Strikes cut power and water. Gov. Maksym Kozytskyi stated Lviv’s energy infrastructure was damaged.
Nicu Popescu, Moldova’s foreign minister, said three cruise missiles launched from Russian ships in the Black Sea violated Moldovan airspace.
Putin branded the attack on the Crimean Kerch Bridge a terrorist act a day earlier. Putin told the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee that “there’s no doubt it was a terrorist incident”
The Kerch Bridge is a critical supply line for Russia’s forces in Ukraine and a symbol of its claims on Crimea. No one has claimed responsibility for damaging Europe’s longest bridge.
Zelenskyy remarked on Telegram that Russia is “trying to destroy us”
The strikes could bring Russia more international censure.
Steffen Hebestreit, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s spokesman, said the G7 will hold a videoconference on the situation on Tuesday. Zelenskyy will speak. Germany leads G-7.
Europe was outraged. Macron expressed “great concern” about civilian losses and pledged more military aid to Ukraine.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly tweeted, “Russia’s missile strikes in Ukraine are unacceptable.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba canceled his Africa trip after the attacks, calling them “terror on quiet Ukrainian cities.”
Some worried Monday’s attacks were the start of a Russian offensive. All Ukrainian schools must transition to online classes by the end of the week, according to the Education Ministry.
Lukashenko and Putin have agreed to deploy a coordinated “regional grouping of forces” amid the escalation of conflict in Ukraine. He didn’t say where, when, or why the group will be deployed.
Lukashenko claimed Ukraine was plotting an invasion on Belarus, stoking worries of preemptive action by Minsk.
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