Ukraine’s Emergency Service said nearly 100 people were wounded in the morning rush hour attacks that Russia launched from the air, sea and land against at least 14 regions, spanning from Lviv in the west to Kharkiv in the east.
Though Russia said missiles targeted military and energy facilities, some struck civilian areas while people were heading to work and school.
The attacks plunged much of the country into a blackout, depriving hundreds of thousands of people of electricity into Monday night and creating a shortage so severe Ukrainian authorities asked people to conserve and announced they will stop power exports to Europe starting Tuesday.
Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said the strikes had no “practical military sense” and that Russia’s goal was to cause a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said his forces targeted key energy infrastructure and military command facilities with “precision weapons” in retaliation for what he claimed were Kyiv’s “terrorist” actions — a reference to Ukraine’s attempts to repel Moscow’s invasion, including an attack Saturday on a key bridge between Russia and the annexed Crimean Peninsula.
Putin vowed a “tough” and “proportionate” response if further Ukrainian attacks threaten Russia’s security. “No one should have any doubts about it,” he told Russia’s Security Council by video.
The Russian president has been under intense domestic pressure to take more aggressive action to stop a largely successful Ukrainian counteroffensive and to react forcefully to Saturday’s attack on the Kerch bridge, whose construction he used to cement his 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Putin’s increasingly frequent descriptions of Ukraine’s actions as terrorist could portend even more bold and draconian actions.
Moscow’s war in Ukraine is approaching its eight-month mark, and the Kremlin has been reeling from humiliating battlefield setbacks in areas of eastern Ukraine it is trying to annex.
The head of Ukraine’s law enforcement said Monday’s attacks damaged 70 infrastructure sites, of which 29 are critical.
Some of the strikes hit near the government quarter in the capital’s symbolic heart, where parliament and other major landmarks are located.
Zelenskyy, in a video address, referred to the rush hour timing of Monday’s attacks, saying Russia “chose such a time and such targets on purpose to inflict the most damage.”
The strikes sent residents of Ukraine’s two largest cities — Kyiv and Kharkiv — into bomb shelters, including subway stations.
Zelenskyy’s wife, Olena, posted a video showing people sheltering on the stairs of a Kyiv subway station singing a Ukrainian folk song, “In a Cherry Garden,” whose final lines are: “My dear mother, you are old and I’m happy and young. I want to live, to love.”
While air raid sirens have continued throughout the war, in Kyiv and elsewhere many Ukrainians had been ignoring the warnings after months of calm.
Just as traffic was picking up Monday morning, a commuter minibus was struck near Kyiv National University.
Another target was the Klitschko pedestrian bridge — a central Kyiv landmark with glass panels.
Air raid sirens sounded in every region of Ukraine except Russia-annexed Crimea for four straight hours.
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.
Natalia Nesterenko, a mathematician, saw one missile fly by her Dnipro apartment balcony as she was in her kitchen, then she heard two explosions.
“It’s very dangerous. I immediately called my kids to see how they are because anyone can be hit — women, children,” she said.
Kharkiv was hit three times, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said. The strikes knocked out the electricity and water supply.
Three cruise missiles launched against Ukraine from Russian ships in the Black Sea crossed Moldova’s airspace, said the country’s foreign affairs minister, Nicu Popescu.
The attacks prompted fresh international condemnation of Russia.
The Group of Seven industrial powers scheduled a video conference Tuesday on the situation, which Zelenskyy will address.
U.S. President Joe Biden said in a statement the missile attacks that killed civilians “again demonstrate the utter brutality of Mr. Putin’s illegal war on the Ukrainian people.”
French President Emanuel Macron expressed “extreme concern.” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly tweeted that “Russia’s firing of missiles into civilian areas of Ukraine is unacceptable.”
Some feared Monday’s attacks may represent the start a new Russian offensive. As a precaution, Ukraine switched all schools to online learning.
ALSO READ:After Russia-Ukraine plan, Musk Offers Proposal To Resolve China-Taiwan Tensions
In an ominous move, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced that he and Putin agreed to create a joint “regional grouping of troops.” He offered no details.
Lukashenko repeated his claims that Ukraine is plotting an attack on Belarus, sparking fears he would take preemptive action.