Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday that people were killed and wounded in multiple missile strikes in Ukraine, including the first shelling of the capital Kyiv in months. CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent Charlie D’Agata said the attacks, which could signal a major escalation in the eight month warit appeared to be entirely punitive: retaliation aimed at terrorizing Ukrainian civilians in densely populated urban neighborhoods, near government buildings, and one even hit a playground.
The deadly barrage slammed into civilian areas, knocking out power and water, smashing buildings and killing at least 14 people. The bombing came two days after Russia suffered a severe blow with the bombing that damaged its only bridge to Crimea.
Ukraine’s Emergency Service said nearly 100 people were injured in rush-hour morning attacks Russia launched from the 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 war front.
Although Russia said the missiles targeted military and energy installations, some hit civilian areas as people headed to work or school. One hit a playground in central 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 creating shortages so severe that Ukrainian authorities announced they would have to halt energy exports to Europe from Tuesday. Power outages also often deprive residents of water, given the system’s reliance on electricity to run pumps and other equipment.
Ukraine’s law enforcement chief said Monday’s attacks damaged 70 infrastructure sites, of which 29 are critical. Zelenskyy said that of the 84 cruise missiles and 24 drones Russia fired, Ukrainian forces shot down 56.
Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said the strikes had “no practical military meaning” and that Russia’s goal was to cause a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said his forces used “precision weapons” to attack key energy infrastructure and military command facilities in retaliation for Kyiv’s “terrorist” actions, a reference to Ukraine’s attempts to repel the invasion forces from Moscow, including an attack Saturday on a key bridge between Russia and the annexed Crimean peninsula that Putin called a “terrorist act” planned by Ukrainian special services.
Putin promised a “tough” and “proportionate” response should Ukraine carry out further attacks that threaten Russia’s security. “Nobody should have any doubts about it,” he told the Russian Security Council by video.
The explosions in Kyiv and other cities came just a day after Putin blamed Kyiv for the massive explosion on a 12-mile bridge connecting Crimea with Russia Crimea is a large Ukrainian peninsula that Russia occupied then unilaterally annexed eight years ago during a previous invasion. The annexation of that territory, as Putin’s recent land grab in four Ukrainian regions which declared Russian soil last week, have been condemned as illegitimate and illegal by Ukraine, the United Nations, the United States and other countries.
The explosion that hit the bridge sparked celebrations among Ukrainians and others on social media, but Kyiv officials have not directly claimed responsibility.
The Russian president has been under intense domestic pressure to take more aggressive steps to halt a largely successful Ukrainian counteroffensive and react strongly 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 could presage even more daring and draconian actions. But in Monday’s speech, Putin, whose partial troop mobilization order last month triggered an exodus of hundreds of thousands of military-aged men from Russia, stopped short of an expected escalation of what he calls a “special military operation.” ” to an anti-terrorist campaign or martial law. Zelenskyy has repeatedly called on world leaders to declare Russia a terrorist state due to its attacks on civilians and alleged war crimes.
Zelenskyy took to a street in Kyiv on Monday to record a selfie video with a message to his people and the world, denouncing Russia for the barrage of missiles he said had targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure and its civilians.
Zelenskyy’s wife, Olena, posted a video showing refugees on the stairs of a Kyiv metro station singing a popular Ukrainian song, “In a Cherry Orchard”, the last lines of which are: “My dear mother, you are old and I’m happy. and young. I want to live, love.
“They have specifically chosen that time and those targets to cause the most damage possible,” the president said. “But we Ukrainians help each other, believe in ourselves, rebuild everything. Now there may be a shortage of electricity, but not a shortage of our challenge and our confidence in our victory.”
The attacks sent residents of Ukraine’s two largest cities, Kyiv and Kharkiv, into bomb shelters, including metro stations.
While air raid sirens continued throughout the war in cities across the country, in Kyiv and elsewhere, many Ukrainians had begun to ignore their warnings after months of calm.
Just as traffic was picking up on Monday morning, a passenger minibus was struck near Kyiv National University. Nearby, at least one lightning strike struck Shevchenko Park, leaving a large hole near a children’s playground.
Another target was the Klitschko pedestrian bridge, a glass-paneled landmark in central Kyiv. Closed-circuit video footage showed a large explosion under the bridge, with smoke billowing out and a man fleeing after the blast, apparently unharmed. No significant damage to the bridge was immediately apparent.
Air-raid sirens sounded in every region of Ukraine except Russian-annexed Crimea for four hours straight.
Videos posted on social media showed black smoke rising over various areas of the city. Russia’s last attack on the capital was on June 26.
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, authorities said. Witnesses said a missile landed in front of a bus during morning rush hour, damaging the vehicle but killing no passengers.
Kharkiv was hit three times, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said. The strikes cut off electricity and water supplies. Energy infrastructure was also affected in Lviv, regional governor Maksym Kozytskyi said.
Three cruise missiles launched at Ukraine from Russian ships in the Black Sea crossed Moldova’s airspace, the country’s Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu said.
While the European Union condemned Russia’s attack and said that targeting civilians amounted to “a war crime”, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the “massive attack with long-range precision weapons”. He claimed that the missiles had targeted “objects of Ukraine’s military command and control, communications and power systems” and that “all assigned objects were hit”.
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 attack “constitutes another unacceptable escalation of the war and As always, civilians are paying the price.” highest price.”
Some feared Monday’s attacks could be the first salvo in a renewed Russian offensive. As a precautionary measure, Ukraine switched all schools to online learning until at least the end of this week.
In a sinister move, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced on Monday that he and Putin had agreed to create a joint “regional grouping of troops.” He did not offer details.
Lukashenko repeated his claims that Ukraine is planning an attack on Belarus, raising fears that he would take pre-emptive action. His defense minister, Viktor Khrenin, later issued a video warning Ukraine not to provoke Belarus, but added: “We don’t want to fight.”
CBS News correspondent Pamela Falk contributed to this report.