Russia Rains Missiles Down on Ukraine’s Capital & Other Cities in Retaliation For Crimea Bridge Blast
A series of blasts rocked Kyiv, the capital, and other major Ukrainian cities on Monday morning, after a barrage of Russian missiles strikes that President Vladimir Putin said was punishment for an explosion Saturday on the Crimean Bridge.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday people were killed and injured in multiple missile strikes on cities across Ukraine, including the first bombardment of the capital in months. CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata said the strikes, which could signal a major escalation in the eight-month-old war, appeared to be entirely punitive — retaliation meant to terrorize Ukrainian civilians in densely-populated urban neighborhoods, close to government buildings, with one even hitting a children’s playground.
Russia’s strongman leader Vladimir Putin acknowledged the barrage of missiles, which Russia claimed targeted only energy infrastructure, was retaliation for an apparent Ukrainian attack on a key bridge over the weekend. Putin warned Monday that if Ukraine continued to mount “terrorist attacks” on Russia, his regime’s response would be “tough and proportionate to the level of threats.”
“Unfortunately there are dead and wounded. Please do not leave the shelters,” Zelenskyy told Ukraine’s citizens on social media earlier Monday, accusing Russia of wanting to “wipe us from the face of the Earth.”
The explosions in Kyiv and other cities came just a day after Putin blamed Kyiv for a massive explosion on a 12-mile bridge connecting Crimea with Russia. Crimea is a large Ukrainian peninsula that Russia occupied and then unilaterally annexed eight years ago during a previous invasion. The annexation of that territory, like putin’s recent land grab of four Ukrainian regions that he declared Russian soil last week, have been condemned as illegitimate and illegal by Ukraine, the United Nations, the U.S. and other Ukrainian partners.
“Ukraine is under missile attack. There is information about strikes in many cities of our country,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, said on social media.
General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said on Twitter that Russia had launched 75 missiles at Ukraine but that “41 of them were neutralized by our air defence.”
Zelenskyy later emerged onto a street in Kyiv to record a selfie video with a message to his people and the world, denouncing Russia for the barrage of missiles which he said had targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, and its civilians.
“They have specifically chosen such a time and such targets to cause as much damage as possible,” the president said. “But we Ukrainians, we help each other, believe in ourselves, rebuild everything. Now the shortages of electricity may occur, but not the shortage of our defiance and our confidence in our victory.”
In Kyiv, reporters for the French news agency AFP heard at least five explosions in two salvos Monday morning, and a BBC News reporter ducked for cover as a massive explosion struck while he was on the air. Some of the missiles hit the center of the capital. Previous attacks largely targeted Kyiv’s outskirts.
Videos posted on social media showed black smoke rising above several areas of the city. Russia’s last strike on the capital was on June 26.
Other major cities hit by explosions Monday included Lviv, in Ukraine’s far west, which has been a refuge for many people fleeing the fighting in the east.
The foreign minister of Moldova, a small nation that sits along Ukraine’s southwest border, said three cruise missiles “from Russian ships in the Black Sea” had flown through Moldova’s airspace as they headed for Ukraine on Monday morning.
Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu added in his twitter message that he had “instructed that Russia’s ambassador be summoned to provide an explanation.”
As the European Union condemned Russia’s attack and said the targeting of civilians amounted to “a war crime,” Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed the “massive strike with long-range precision weapons.” It claimed the missiles had targeted “objects of the military command and control, communications and energy systems of Ukraine” and that “all assigned objects were hit.” (Credit: cbsnews)