Attacks on Monday killed 14 people and injured 97 others as widespread missile strikes fell on Ukraine, in what according to Russian President Vladimir Putin are retaliation for Saturday’s explosion that badly damaged the only bridge linking Russia and occupied Crimea.
At least 84 cruise missiles and 24 drones were used to attack 14 regions in what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky insisted was a horrifying escalation and an effort to wipe his country “off the face of the Earth.”
Putin blames the bridge explosion on Ukraine and threatens more missile strikes in response to what he calls “terrorist attacks” as Ukrainian defenders work to repel the invasion.
The attack on the bridge badly damaged the only link between Russia and occupied Crimea – a key route for military supplies for the war.
Monday’s missile strikes fell on cities across Ukraine, including Kyiv—the first time the capital has been targeted in months—marking a significant escalation in the conflict, which began on February 24 and has revealed significant weakness in the Russian military.
By damaging critical infrastructure, Russia signaled that it plans to keep the Ukrainian economy on its knees, regardless of any gains the defenders make on the battlefield.
Meanwhile, the leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, has ordered his troops to deploy with Russian forces near Ukraine, claiming without evidence that Ukraine and NATO are planning to launch an attack on his country.
The Kerch Strait Bridge is a pair of parallel 12-mile spans, one with a four-lane road and the other a double-track railway, crossing the waterway that connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
If Ukraine managed to attack the Kerch Bridge, hundreds of miles from Ukrainian-controlled territory, then it’s one of Kyiv’s most ambitious operations so far in the war.
The destruction of the bridge has the strategic impact of separating the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea in the west from the Taman Peninsula of Russia’s Krasnodar Krai in the east, preventing the invaders from supplying an area illegally annexed in 2014.
A unit of the Kherson anti-aircraft missile brigade of the Yug air command destroyed a Russian Su-25 attack aircraft on October 10, at about 2:30 p.m., according to Ukrainian military sources.
Officials around the world reacted to Russia’s deadly slew of attacks across Ukraine on Monday.
Many countries described the attacks as a sign of Russian weakness and noted that targeting civilians is a war crime.
Some European nations also reaffirmed their pledges of support for Ukraine.
European Union: Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed their condemnation of Monday’s attacks on Kyiv and other cities and their support for Ukraine.
“I’m shocked and appalled by the vicious attack on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities. Russia once again has shown what it stands for: it is terror and brutality,” said von der Leyen, standing alongside Kallas, in a video posted on Twitter. the Estonian prime minister said that air defense systems have to be delivered to Ukraine because “Russia is definitely escalating to harm civilians.” E.U. foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell also condemned the attack, tweeting that he had spoken with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and that “more EU support is coming.”
Britain: “Russia’s firing of missiles into civilian areas of Ukraine is unacceptable,” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said. “ … This is a demonstration of weakness by Putin, not strength.” Cleverly said the United Kingdom would continue to offer “moral and practical” support to Ukraine, while the security minister, Tom Tugendhat, said the attacks on Ukrainian cities and civilians were “war crimes.”
France: President Emmanuel Macron held an “urgent call” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky amid the attacks and discussed strengthening Ukraine’s air defenses, Zelensky said.
Lithuania: “Russia’s terror tactics show the regime’s desperation,” Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted.
Canada: In a call with Zelensky, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “such egregious Russian attacks only strengthen Canada’s resolve to support Ukraine for as long as necessary.” The Canadian Foreign Ministry said earlier that it condemns Russia’s strikes, adding: “Targeting civilians is a war crime.”
Belgium: Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said the attacks were “a reprehensible act by Russia.” Such aggression would only fuel Belgium’s support for Ukraine, he said.
Italy: The country’s Foreign Ministry said it was “appalled by the vile missile strikes” on Kyiv and other cities and reiterated its “unwavering and steadfast support” for Ukraine.
Iceland: Foreign Minister Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir called Russia’s attacks “cowardly and horrifying,” adding on Twitter: “Targeting civilians is a war crime and Russia must be held accountable for the indiscriminate terrorising of the general population of Ukraine.”
China: Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry, called for negotiations to defuse the situation in Ukraine, saying, “We hope the situation will de-escalate as soon as possible.”
China, a major diplomatic ally of Russia, has so far refrained from criticizing Russia’s invasion.