Russia escalates attacks on Ukrainian cities after Vladimir Putin calls attack on Kerch bridge an ‘act of terror’
Kyiv was targeted by at least four missiles on Monday morning, the first strikes on the Ukrainian capital in several months, as other Ukrainian cities also came under Russian attack in the wake of Saturday’s huge explosion that hit a key Russian-built bridge in the Crimea. Among the targets hit overnight were the city of Zaporizhzhia which was hit for the third night in a row and the port city of Mykolaiv.
Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in response to this morning’s series of attacks on Ukrainian cities, posted to Telegram: “They are trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth.”
The strikes came after Vladimir Putin called the blast on the Crimea-Russia bridge an “act of terror” and blamed Ukraine directly for the attack. The Russian president accused “Ukrainian secret services” of carrying out the explosion at the Kerch Bridge, a vital link between Russian-occupied Crimea and the Russian mainland. “There is no doubt. This is an act of terrorism aimed at destroying critically important civilian infrastructure,” Putin said in a video released on Sunday night. “This was devised, carried out and ordered by the Ukrainian special services.” Ukraine has not directly claimed responsibility for the attack, which Russia said was carried out by a truck bomb.
Russian divers are to examine the extent of the damage caused by the blast on the road-and-rail bridge. Crimea’s Russian governor, Sergei Aksyonov, told reporters that residents would manage despite the damage to the bridge. “Of course, emotions have been triggered and there is a healthy desire to seek revenge,” he said.
Putin will convene his national security council on Monday to discuss the Kerch Bridge blast, according to the Kremlin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov. The meeting comes amid growing expectation that the Kremlin plans an imminent and harsh escalation of its war.
At least 14 people have been confirmed dead after Russian shelling in Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine’s south-east early on Sunday. Images showed a nine-storey building burning and partially collapsed as rescue workers sought to retrieve the dead and wounded. Regional governor, Oleksandr Starukh, warned there may be more people under the rubble as president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said debris is still being cleared. “More than 70 people were injured, including 11 children,” he added in his latest Sunday evening address.
A power line that was cut by shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been restored, according to the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Authorities have exhumed the first 20 bodies from makeshift graves in the recently liberated city of Lyman in the eastern Donetsk region, Ukraine’s national police said on Sunday.
Air force general Sergei Surovikin has been named as the overall commander of Russian forces fighting in Ukraine, Russia’s defence ministry announced. The change is Moscow’s third senior military appointment in a week and follows the reported sacking earlier this week of the commanders of two of Russia’s five military regions, as its forces have suffered a series of dramatic reverses in northeastern and southern Ukraine in recent weeks.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and US president Joe Biden said the Kremlin’s latest nuclear threats were “irresponsible” and its partial mobilisation “a serious mistake” during a phone call on Sunday. The call was focused on preparations for the upcoming G7 and G20 meetings that will address Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the consequences, a German government statement read.
The US military’s top spokesperson tamped down concerns of an imminent nuclear threat from Russia, days after Joe Biden warned of a potential nuclear “Armageddon”. “We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis,” the president said at a Democratic fundraiser last week. Top Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said Biden’s comments “were not based on new or fresh intelligence or new indications that Mr Putin has made a decision to use nuclear weapons,” in an interview on ABC News’ This Week.