KYIV, Ukraine — On Monday, Russia retaliated for an attack on a critical bridge with the most massive strikes in Ukraine in months, a deadly barrage that smashed civilian facilities, cut off electricity and water, destroyed buildings and killed at least 14 people.

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

Although Russia said the missiles were aimed at military and energy facilities, some hit civilian areas as people headed to work and school. One got to the playground in the center of Kyiv, the other to the university.

The attacks plunged much of the country into blackouts, knocking out electricity for hundreds of thousands of people on Monday night and creating a shortage, prompting Ukrainian authorities to ask people to save and announced that they would stop exporting electricity 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.

Andrei Yermak, a senior adviser to President Uladzimir Zelenskyi, said that the strikes have no “practical military meaning” and that Russia’s goal is to cause a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said his forces had struck key energy infrastructure and military command facilities with “precision weapons” in response to what he said were “terrorist” actions by Kiev, a reference to Ukraine’s attempts to repel Moscow’s invasion of including Saturday’s attack on the key bridge between Russia and the annexed Crimean peninsula. Putin said that the attack on the bridge was organized by Ukrainian special services.

Putin promised a “tough” and “proportionate” response if further attacks by Ukraine threaten Russia’s security. “Nobody should have any doubts about this,” he said in a video at the Security Council of Russia.

Russia’s president has been under intense domestic pressure to take more aggressive action 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 description of Ukraine’s actions as terrorist may portend even bolder and draconian actions. But in his speech on Monday, Putin, whose order to partially mobilize troops last month sent hundreds of thousands of men of fighting age fleeing, did not translate his “special military operation” into an anti-terror campaign or martial law. Zelensky has repeatedly called on world leaders to declare Russia a terrorist state because of its attacks on civilians and alleged war crimes.

Moscow’s war in Ukraine is nearing its eight-month mark, with the Kremlin reeling from humiliating battlefield setbacks in the areas of eastern Ukraine it is trying to annex.

The head of Ukraine’s law enforcement agencies said that Monday’s attacks damaged 70 infrastructure facilities, 29 of which were critical. Zelensky said that out of 84 cruise missiles and 24 drones launched by Russia, Ukrainian forces shot down 56.

The explosions rang out in the Shevchenko district of the capital, which includes the historic old town and state institutions, the mayor of the city, Vitaliy Klitschko, said.

Some of the strikes took place near the government quarter in the symbolic center of the capital, where the parliament and other important landmarks are located. The glazed office tower was heavily damaged, with most of its blue windows blown out.

In a video message, Zelensky referred to the timing of Monday’s rush-hour attacks, saying Russia “deliberately chose such a time and such targets to cause the most damage.”

As a result of the strikes, residents of the two largest cities of Ukraine – Kyiv and Kharkiv – were trapped in bomb shelters, including the metro station.

Alen Zelensky’s wife published a video showing people hiding on the stairs of the Kyiv metro station and singing the Ukrainian folk song “In the Cherry Orchard”, the final lines of which are: “My mother, you are old, and I am happy.” and young. I want to live, love.”

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

On Monday morning, when traffic picked up, a suburban minibus was hit near Kyiv National University. Nearby, at least one rocket landed in Shevchenko Park, leaving a large hole near a playground.

Another target was the Klitschko Pedestrian Bridge, a central Kyiv landmark with glass panels. The video shows a loud explosion under the bridge, smoke rising and a man running away, apparently unharmed. The mayor later posted a video of a walk on the bridge, pointing out a crater in the pavement below and broken glass and rocket shards on the bridge’s surface.

Alarm sirens sounded for four hours in a row in all regions of Ukraine, except for the Crimea annexed by Russia.

Associated Press journalists saw the bodies at an industrial site on the outskirts of the Dnieper. Four people were killed and 19 injured in the city, officials said. According to witnesses, one rocket landed in front of the bus, damaging the vehicle but not killing the passengers.

Mathematician Natalya Nesterenko, being in the kitchen, saw one rocket fly by the balcony of her Dnipro apartment, and then heard two explosions.

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

Kharkiv was fired upon three times, Mayor Igor Tserakhov said. As a result of the strikes, electricity and water supply were cut off. In Lviv, the energy infrastructure was also affected, regional governor Maksim Kazitsky said.

Three cruise missiles launched at Ukraine from Russian ships in the Black Sea crossed the airspace of Moldova, said the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the country Niku Papescu.

These attacks caused new international condemnation of Russia.

The Big Seven industrialized nations have planned a video conference on the situation on Tuesday, at which Zelensky will speak.

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

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed “extreme concern”. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley tweeted that “Russia’s firing of missiles at civilian areas of Ukraine is unacceptable.”

Some feared that Monday’s attacks could be the start of a new Russian offensive. As a precaution, all schools in Ukraine switched to online learning.

The President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, announced that he and Putin agreed on the creation of a joint “regional grouping of troops”. He did not provide any details.

Lukashenko repeated his statements that Ukraine was preparing an attack on Belarus, which raised fears that he would take preventive measures. His Defense Minister Viktar Khrenin later released a video in which he warned Ukraine not to provoke Belarus, but added: “We don’t want to fight.”


Sabra Ayres in Kyiv, Vasilisa Stepanenko in Kharkiv, and Justin Spike and Yesika Fish in Dnipro contributed to this story.

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