In retaliation for blowing up the Crimean bridge, Russia rains rockets on Ukraine’s capital and other cities
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday that multiple rocket attacks across Ukraine have killed and injured people, including the first bombing of the capital Kyiv in months. CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata said the strikes could signal a major escalation in the USappeared to be entirely punitive – a retaliatory strike aimed at terrorizing Ukrainian civilians in densely populated neighborhoods near government buildings, one even hitting a children’s playground.
The deadly barrage slammed into civilian areas, knocking out power and water, destroying buildings and killing at least 14 people. The bombardment came two days after Russia suffered a severe blow with the.
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 and causing electricity shortages, prompting Ukrainian authorities to announce they would have to 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.
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.
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 “terrorist” actions – a reference to Ukraine’s attempts to repel Moscow’s invading forces, including an attack on one important bridge on Saturday between Russia and the annexed peninsula of Crimea, which Putin called a “terrorist act” directed by Ukrainian special services.
Putin promised a “tough” and “appropriate” response should Ukraine launch further attacks that threaten Russia’s security. “No one should doubt that,” he told the Russian Security Council via video.
The blasts in Kyiv and other cities came just a day after Putin blamed Kyiv for the massive blastswith Russia. Crimea is a large Ukrainian peninsula that includes Russia eight years ago during a previous invasion. The annexation of this territory, how which he declared Russian soil last week have been condemned as illegitimate and illegal by Ukraine, the United Nations, the US and other countries.
The blast that hit the bridge sparked celebrations among Ukrainians and others on social media – but officials in Kyiv have not taken direct responsibility.
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 last month sparked an exodus of hundreds of thousands of fighting-age men from Russia — came close to an expected escalation from what he calls a “military special operation” to a counterterrorism campaign or martial law. Zelenskyy has repeatedly called on world leaders to declare Russia a terrorist state over its attacks on civilians and alleged war crimes.
Zelenskyy emerged on a Kyiv street on Monday to take a selfie video with a message to his people and the world, in which he denounced Russia over rocket fire, which he said was affecting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and its targeted civilians.
Zelenskyi’s wife Olena posted a video showing people taking refuge on the stairs of a Kiev 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 am happy and young. I want to live, to love.”
“They purposefully chose such a timing and such targets to do as much damage as possible,” the president said. “But we Ukrainians, we help each other, believe in each other, rebuild everything.
The strikes sent residents of Ukraine’s two largest cities – Kyiv and Kharkiv – to bomb shelters, including subway stations.
As air raids continued in cities across the country throughout the war, many Ukrainians in Kyiv and elsewhere began to ignore their warnings after months of dormancy.
Just as traffic was picking up Monday morning, a commuter minibus was hit near Kiev National University. Nearby, at least one strike landed in Shevchenko Park, leaving a large hole near a children’s playground.
Another destination was the Klitschko Pedestrian Bridge – a landmark in central Kyiv with glass panes. Closed-circuit video footage showed a huge explosion from under the bridge, smoke billowing and a man running away from the blast, seemingly unharmed. There was initially no significant damage to the bridge.
Air raid sirens rang out for four hours in all regions of Ukraine except Russia-annexed Crimea.
Videos posted on social media showed black smoke billowing over several neighborhoods. Russia’s last airstrike on the capital took place on June 26th.
Associated Press journalists saw several 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 during the morning rush hour, damaging the vehicle but killing no passengers.
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.
While the European Union condemned Russia’s attack, saying the attack on civilians constituted a “war crime,” the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the “massive strike with long-range precision weapons.” It claimed the missiles had “attacked objects of Ukraine’s military command and control, communications and power systems” and “hit all assigned objects.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “deeply shocked by today’s large-scale missile attacks” on Ukraine, his spokesman said in a statement, adding that the strike “represents another unacceptable escalation of the war and, as always, civilians for it.” pay the highest price.”
Some feared Monday’s attacks could be just the first salvo of a renewed Russian offensive. As a precaution, Ukraine has switched all schools to online learning by at least the end of this week.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced Monday in an ominous move that he and Putin have agreed to form a joint “regional force grouping.” 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 warned Ukraine via video not to provoke Belarus, but added: “We don’t want to fight.”
CBS News correspondent Pamela Falk contributed to this report.