Russia strikes Kyiv after Putin accuses Ukraine of attacking a bridge in Crimea

Russia unleashed a barrage of deadly attacks on cities across Ukraine on Monday, pounding the heart of the country’s capital in a wave of strikes against civilians and infrastructure not seen since the earliest days. of the war.

From Lviv in the west to Kharkiv in the northeast, missiles ripped through rush hour traffic and energy installations, apparently in revenge for what the Kremlin called a ‘terrorist’ explosion that damaged a bridge key to Crimea over the weekend.

After a series of humiliating setbacks that put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin, the attacks suggested an escalation that showed Moscow retained the ability to terrorize the Ukrainian population before winter, or even defeat its army.

Injured civilians receive medical treatment after missiles hit Kyiv on Monday morning.Efrem Lukatsky/AP

The country’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other officials have blamed Russia for the blasts that have shattered months of relative calm in Kyiv and beyond. At least 8 people were killed and 24 others injured in the capital, Ukrainian officials said.

NBC News has not verified the claims.

Ukrainian cities have been attacked by Russian missiles and drones, targeting civilians and energy installations across the country, Zelenskyy said in recorded video.

“They want panic and chaos, they want to destroy our energy system. They are hopeless,” he said, adding that the timing and targets of the attacks indicate that Moscow wanted to “cause as much damage as possible.”

Eleven “important infrastructure” was damaged in eight regions of the country and in the capital, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said, adding that Ukrainians should be prepared for temporary interruptions in electricity and water supplies.

The blasts came hours after Putin accused Ukraine of “terrorism” after the bridge connecting Russia and annexed Crimea was badly damaged, in a huge blast that dealt a strategic and symbolic blow to the Kremlin. Putin directly blamed Ukrainian special services for the attack, but Kyiv did not take responsibility for the incident.

A series of battlefield failures and the chaotic call-up of hundreds of thousands of military reservists has led to growing criticism of the Kremlin at home, with some prominent figures calling for an escalation in a bid to turn the tide of the conflict.

After Putin’s comments on Sunday, Ukraine braced for a retaliation that appeared to be coming the next morning.

A number of explosions were heard in central Kyiv early Monday by NBC News. Smoke was seen rising from buildings, while images and video verified by NBC News showed incinerated cars and a crater near a playground in a city park. Residents were sent to seek shelter in underground metro stations, while air raid sirens sounded in other major cities across the country.

Kyiv Mayor Vitalii Klitchko said the blasts occurred in the central Shevchenko district, where several key government offices are located. Explosions were also heard in the Solomyansky district in western Kyiv, he said.

A vehicle is destroyed in central Kyiv on Monday morning. Adam Schreck/AP

Klitschko later said critical infrastructure in the city was hit and there were an unidentified number of casualties. He pleaded with local residents to seek shelter and stay put amid fears of further attacks.

Rostislav Smirnov, adviser to the interior minister, said in a Facebook post that at least 8 people were killed and 24 injured in one of the capital’s districts.

Explosions were also reported in cities in central Ukraine and the west of the country, as regional governors and mayors across the country warned people to take shelter. Five explosions were also heard in Kharkiv, in the northeast, by NBC News.

Army chief Valerii Zaluzhny said at least 75 rockets were launched by the Russian military on Monday morning, 41 of which were intercepted.

The US Embassy in Kyiv has issued an alert, urging Americans to shelter in place and leave Ukraine using ground transportation when it is safe to do so, while the US Ambassador United in Ukraine, Bridget Brink, tweeted: “Russia is stepping up its barrage of attacks against Ukrainian civilians.”

“On the 229th day they are trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on the Telegram messaging app.

His Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, called Putin “a terrorist who speaks with missiles”. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov called for the country’s Western allies to step up their supply of anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems as the best way to respond to what he called “Russian missile terror”.

Putin, who appointed a new commander for his forces in Ukraine over the weekend, is expected to hold a meeting with the Russian Security Council later on Monday.

There has been no official reaction from Moscow so far, but Russian state media have widely reported on the attacks.

Darina Mayer, Mariia Ulyanovska, Lawahez Jabari and Artem Grudinin contributed.


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