Russia unleashes its biggest attacks in Ukraine in months

Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) – Russia retaliated on Monday for an attack on a critical bridge by unleashing its most widespread attack on Ukraine in months, a deadly barrage that shattered civilian targets, cut off power and water, demolished buildings and killed at least 14 people.

Ukraine’s emergency services said nearly 100 people were injured in morning rush-hour attacks Russia launched from air, sea and land against at least 14 regions from Lviv in the west to Kharkiv in the east. Many of the attacks occurred far from the front lines of the war.

Although Russia said missiles were aimed at military and energy installations, some hit civilian areas while people went to work and school. One hit a playground in downtown Kyiv and another hit a university.

The attacks plunged much of the country into a blackout, depriving hundreds of thousands of people of electricity through Monday night and causing a power shortage so severe that Ukrainian authorities have urged people to save and announced they will halt electricity exports to Europe from Tuesday . Power outages also often deprive residents of water, as the system relies on electricity to run pumps and other equipment.

Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said the attacks made no “practical military sense” and that Russia’s goal was to cause a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said his forces had used “precision weapons” to target key energy infrastructure and military command facilities in retaliation for Kiev’s alleged “terrorist” actions — a reference to Ukraine’s attempts to repel the invasion of Moscow, including an attack on a key Saturday bridge linking Russia and the annexed Crimean Peninsula. Putin claimed the bridge attack was directed by Ukrainian special services.

Putin promised a “tough” and “appropriate” response should further Ukrainian attacks threaten Russia’s security. “No one should doubt that,” he told the Russian Security Council via video.

The Russian president has been under intense domestic pressure to take more aggressive measures to halt a largely successful Ukrainian counter-offensive and to respond forcefully to Saturday’s attack on the Kerch Bridge, the construction of which he used to cement his 2014 annexation of Crimea .

Putin’s increasingly frequent descriptions of Ukraine’s actions as terrorists may portend even bolder and more draconian actions. But in Monday’s speech, Putin – whose partial troop mobilization order sparked an exodus of hundreds of thousands of military-age men last month – kept Putin from expanding his “military special operation” into a counter-terrorism or martial law campaign. Zelenskyy has repeatedly called on world leaders to declare Russia a terrorist state over its attacks on civilians and alleged war crimes.

Moscow’s war in Ukraine is nearing its eight-month mark, and the Kremlin is suffering humiliating battlefield setbacks in areas of eastern Ukraine it is attempting to annex.

The head of Ukraine’s law enforcement agencies said Monday’s attacks damaged 70 infrastructure sites, 29 of which are critical. Zelenskyi said that of the 84 cruise missiles and 24 drones fired by Russia, Ukrainian forces shot down 56.

Explosions struck the capital’s Shevchenko district, which includes the historic Old Town and government buildings, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.

Some of the strikes took place near the government district in the symbolic heart of the capital, where the parliament and other important sights are located. A glass-roofed office tower sustained significant damage, with most of its blue-tinted windows blown out.

Referring to the peak times of Monday’s attacks in a video address, Zelenskyy said Russia “deliberately chose such a time and such targets in order to cause the greatest damage.”

The strikes sent residents of Ukraine’s two largest cities – Kyiv and Kharkiv – to bomb shelters, including subway stations.

Zelenskyi’s wife Olena posted a video showing people taking refuge on the stairs of a Kyiv metro station while singing a Ukrainian folk song, “In a Cherry Orchard,” the closing lines of which read: “My dear mother, you are old and i am happy and young. I want to live, to love.”

While air raid sirens continued throughout the war, many Ukrainians in Kyiv and elsewhere had ignored the warnings after months of calm.

Just as traffic was picking up Monday morning, a commuter minibus was hit near Kiev National University. Nearby, at least one missile landed in Shevchenko Park, leaving a large hole near a children’s playground.

Another destination was the Klitschko Pedestrian Bridge – a central Kiev landmark with glass panes. Video footage showed a massive explosion from under the bridge, smoke billowed out and one man ran away seemingly unharmed. The mayor later posted video while walking on the bridge, pointing out a crater on a sidewalk below and broken glass and rocket fragments on the bridge surface.

Air raid sirens rang out for four hours in all regions of Ukraine except Russia-annexed Crimea.

Associated Press journalists saw bodies at an industrial site on the outskirts of Dnipro. Four people were killed and 19 injured in the city, officials said. Witnesses said a missile landed in front of a bus, damaging the vehicle but killing no passengers.

Natalia Nesterenko, a mathematician, saw a rocket fly past the balcony of her Dnipro apartment while she was in her kitchen, then heard two explosions.

“It’s very dangerous. I immediately called my children to see how they were because anyone can be hit – women, children,” she said.

Kharkiv was hit three times, said Mayor Ihor Terekhov. The strikes paralyzed electricity and water supplies. The energy infrastructure in Lviv is also affected, said regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi.

Three cruise missiles fired by Russian ships in the Black Sea against Ukraine crossed Moldova’s airspace, the country’s Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu said.

The attacks led to renewed international condemnation of Russia.

The Group of Seven Industrial Powers scheduled a video conference on Tuesday on the situation, which Zelenskyy will address.

US President Joe Biden said in a statement the rocket attacks that killed civilians “again demonstrate the utter brutality of Mr. Putin’s illegal war against the Ukrainian people.” He said the United States and its allies would “continue to exact costs from Russia for its aggression, hold Putin and Russia accountable for its atrocities and war crimes, and provide the necessary support to Ukrainian forces to defend their country and freedom.” In a phone call later Monday, Biden Zelenskyy said the United States had agreed to his request to deploy advanced air defense systems.

French President Emanuel Macron expressed “extreme concern”. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly tweeted that “Russia’s launching of missiles into civilian areas of Ukraine is unacceptable”.

Some feared Monday’s attacks could mark the start of a new Russian offensive. Ukraine has switched all schools to online learning as a precaution.

In an ominous move, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced that he and Putin had agreed to form a joint “regional grouping of troops.” He did not give details.

Lukashenko reiterated his claims that Ukraine was planning an attack on Belarus and stoked fears he would take pre-emptive action. His Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin later released a video warning Ukraine not to provoke Belarus, but added: “We don’t want to fight.”

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https://wgntv.com/news/russia-ukraine-crisis/russia-unleashes-biggest-attacks-in-ukraine-in-months/ Russia unleashes its biggest attacks in Ukraine in months

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