Russia launched a series of far-reaching missile strikes on Monday at cities across Ukraine on Monday morning, hitting the heart of the capital and areas far from the front line in its broadest assault against civilians and critical infrastructure since the early days of its invasion.
The attacks killed at least five people, the Ukrainian police said, and knocked out power and other key services in an apparent retaliation for a blast that damaged a key Russian bridge over the weekend.
The explosions blew out the windows of buildings in central Kyiv, set vehicles ablaze, and sent residents scrambling for shelter at a time when many were heading for school or work.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russian forces launched dozens of missiles and Iranian-built drones against Ukraine.
“They want panic and chaos. They want to destroy our energy system,” Zelenskyy said in a video on Telegram.
He also said that Russia is “trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth.”
The general staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said 75 missiles were fired against Ukrainian targets, adding that 41 of them were neutralised by air defences.
Zelensky said that the attacks on Monday morning were clearly timed to inflict the most damage.
At least eight people were killed and 24 were injured in one of the strikes in Kyiv, said Rostyslav Smirnov — Adviser to the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal Affairs.
At least 10 Ukrainian cities were attacked, and regional officials said that electrical power stations and power lines were among the main targets of the strikes.
“Electricity outages disrupted internet services, and several cities were left without power and central heating,” officials said.
The attacks came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced an attack on the huge bridge connecting Russia to its annexed territory of Crimea a “terrorist act” masterminded by Ukrainian special services.
The attacks demonstrated that Russia still has the ability to strike deep into Ukraine and terrorise civilians, even as Moscow’s forces struggle on the battlefield eighth months into the invasion.
Ukrainian troops have reclaimed more than 1,200 miles of territory in the east and south in recent weeks, and Putin has faced mounting criticism of his army’s performance and growing opposition for conscripting hundreds of thousands of civilians.