Kyiv and cities across Ukraine hit by barrage after bridge attack

Kyiv, Ukraine — A series of blasts rocked Kyiv on Monday morning, with some rush-hour strikes landing in the heart of the Ukrainian capital’s downtown and rocket attacks hitting cities across the country — Russia’s apparent revenge for an explosion on Saturday at the Crimean Bridge.

Suspected Russian missiles caused heavy explosions around 8:15 a.m. and vehicles were ablaze near Taras Shevchenko Park — on a street often congested with rush-hour traffic.

At least five people were killed in the strikes and at least a dozen others were injured, the Ukrainian National Police reported on its Telegram channel.

Explosions were reported from other major Ukrainian cities on Monday, including in Zaporizhia, Dnipro, Kharkiv and Lviv, when Moscow unleashed rocket fire.

In Kyiv, strikes came in waves, the first attack on the city since June. But even when the Russian forces stood on the outskirts of the capital in the first months of the war, never before had an attack hit the city center so directly.

Suddenly, the cheerful taunts that characterized Ukraine’s national enthusiasm over the Crimean Bridge fireball were replaced on Monday by anger and outrage, terrorism charges against Moscow and redoubled determination to overcome aggression and defeat the invaders.

Parallel to the first days of the war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy published a video in which he stood in front of the Presidential Office in the center of Kyiv to address the citizens.

“The morning is hard,” Zelenskyj said. “We are dealing with terrorists.”

“Always remember,” he added, “Ukraine existed before this enemy appeared, and Ukraine will exist after.”

In Moscow, where he convened a meeting of his Security Council, Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted of a “massive attack” with high-precision weapons in retaliation for the bridge blast and warned of more attacks if Ukraine continued to hit Russian targets.

“In case of continued Ukrainian acts of terrorism on Russian territory, our response will be tough and commensurate with the scale of the threat,” Putin said.

Russia’s strikes in the heart of the capital have raised questions about the strength of Ukraine’s air defenses, which officials are urging Western countries to bolster with additional security support. Ukraine’s military reported that its air defenses shot down 43 of the 83 missiles fired at the country on Monday.

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Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv is turning to its western allies to organize a response to Monday’s strikes. “I have been in constant contact with partners since early this morning to coordinate a determined response to Russian attacks,” Kuleba wrote on twitter. “I’m also interrupting my African tour and going straight back to Ukraine.”

The strikes appeared to be in retaliation for the attack on the Kerch Strait Bridge, which has partially reopened, including to rail services. The Crimean Bridge is a strategic link between mainland Russia and Crimea and a symbol of Putin’s ambitions to annex Ukrainian territory.

Amid Ukrainian taunts, Russia is scrambling to save the Crimean bridge after a fiery explosion

Putin blamed Ukrainian special services for the attack.

“There is no doubt that the attack was aimed at destroying critical civilian infrastructure of the Russian Federation,” Putin said in a video released by the Kremlin on Sunday. While used by civilians, the 12-mile span is a crucial military logistics channel for the Russian military, the only direct road and rail link from mainland Russia to Crimea, which the Kremlin occupied and illegally annexed in 2014.

“And now the answer has arrived,” wrote Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of state broadcaster RT, on Twitter. “From the very beginning, the Crimean Bridge was this red line. It was obvious.”

Putin has been under pressure to up the ante on what the Kremlin calls its “military special operation” in Ukraine after a string of recent battlefield failures. Over the past six weeks, Ukraine has routed Russian troops from the northeastern Kharkiv region, pushing them back into the eastern Donbass and southern Kherson regions.

But while an attack on Kyiv might please Russian hardliners who have called for more attacks on the capital, it will not reverse Russia’s core strategic programs, including the loss of soldiers and equipment, falling morale and repeated logistical failures.

The attacks followed Russia’s announcement on Saturday that General Sergei Surovikin had been appointed supreme commander of the war in Ukraine. Surovikin is a veteran officer who led the Russian military expedition into Syria in 2017, which indiscriminately bombed civilian areas.

Moscow’s longtime deputy leader of Crimea called the barrage of strikes across Ukraine “good news”.

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“Good news from early morning: the approach to conducting the special military operation has changed,” regional head Sergey Aksyonov wrote on Telegram. “I said from the first day of the operation that if such actions to destroy enemy infrastructure were carried out every day, we would have finished everything in May and defeated the Kiev regime.”

“I hope that the pace of the operation will not slow down now,” Aksyonov said.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechnya region in the North Caucasus, who has repeatedly called for an escalation of the war in Ukraine and sent hundreds of fighters to the front lines, said he was now “100 percent satisfied” with Moscow’s war strategy.

Monday’s strikes shattered the sense of relative peace Kyiv has experienced since April, when Ukrainian troops urged Russian forces to withdraw from the region’s northern fringes.

Reports of explosions spanning several hours across the country date back to the first day of the war, when Russia attempted to destroy Ukrainian military installations to set the stage for the invasion. On Monday, however, the targets appeared to be mostly civilian.

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About 90 minutes after the first blasts shook the capital, rescue workers and military personnel were deployed around an intersection that was hit in central Kyiv. The site is adjacent to a large university complex and Taras Shevchenko Park, which is popular with families. One of the rockets landed in the park’s playground.

The burned-out shells of several cars remained, and at least one body bag was visible on the sidewalk. Glass from broken building windows was strewn on the sidewalk.

Another missile hit a glass pedestrian bridge in downtown Kyiv, which was a popular spot for tourists.

Kyiv has returned to some normality Living in the months since Russia failed to capture the capital and overthrow the government. People routinely ignored air raid sirens while sitting at sidewalk cafes and walking through the city.

After the start of the war prompted many foreign governments to evacuate their embassy staff, embassies gradually reopened. The United States reopened its embassy in May. It was unclear whether Monday’s barrage would prompt these countries to rethink.

In Kyiv, the US medium-term and the need for help cast a shadow over the successes on the battlefield

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In the western city of Lviv, a haven for thousands of Ukrainians displaced because it is far from the front lines, rockets have hit a power plant, cutting out electricity and hot water in some places, Mayor Andriy Sadovyi said on Twitter.

“They are trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram. “Destroy our people sleeping at home in Zaporizhia. Kill people who go to work in Dnipro and Kyiv.”

Khurshudyan reported from Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine. Kostiantyn Khudov in Kyiv and Mary Ilyushina in Riga, Latvia contributed to this report.

War in Ukraine: What you need to know

The newest: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed decrees annexing four occupied regions of Ukraine after staged referenda were widely denounced as illegal. Follow our live updates here.

The answer: The Biden administration on Friday announced a new round of sanctions against Russia in response to the annexations, targeting government officials and family members, Russian and Belarusian military officials and defense procurement networks. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also said on Friday that Ukraine was requesting “accelerated entry” into NATO in an apparent response to the annexations.

In Russia: Putin on September 21 declared a military mobilization to call up up to 300,000 reservists in a dramatic attempt to reverse setbacks in his war against Ukraine. The announcement prompted an exodus of more than 180,000 people, mostly conscript men, and renewed protests and other acts of defiance against the war.

The fight: Ukraine launched a successful counter-offensive that forced a major Russian retreat in the northeastern Kharkiv region in early September, as troops fled towns and villages they had occupied since the early days of the war, leaving behind large amounts of military equipment.

Photos: Washington Post photographers have been on the ground since the war began – here is some of their most impressive work.

How can you help: Here are ways people in the US can support the people of Ukraine, as well as what people around the world have donated.

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