Vladimir Putin has vowed to carry out a “severe” response to any attacks on Russia after unleashing a barrage of missiles on cities across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv.
Vladimir Putin has vowed to carry out a “severe” response to any attacks on Russia after unleashing a barrage of missiles on cities across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, on Monday.
The Russian tyrant ordered 83 missiles to be fired at Ukraine, of which half were shot down, in what appears certain to be a revenge attack following the partial destruction of a key bridge in Crimea over the weekend.
As explosions rocked Kyiv, more blasts were felt in Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, Kharkiv, Sumy, Zhytomyr, Vinnytsia, and even Ternopil and Lviv in the west of the country.
Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s henchman and former president, warned it was just the “first episode” of a major retaliation.
Putin spoke hours after Monday’s blistering attack, accusing Ukraine of “carrying out terrorist acts” on Russian territory and saying his military would continue to respond “proportionately”.
“A massive strike with long-range high-precision weapons, from air, sea and land against energy infrastructure, communications and military targets was carried out this morning at the suggestion of the Defence Ministry and the General Staff,” Putin said.
An injured woman is helped to safety after blasts rocked Kyiv.
“Should the attempts to carry out terrorist attacks on our territory persist, Russia’s response will be tough and its scale will be proportionate to the level of threats posed against Russia.
“Kyiv’s regime, with its actions, places itself in line with international terrorist organisations,” Putin said. “Leaving such crimes without response is impossible. In case of continuing attacks we will respond in harsh manner and in line with level of threats to Russian Federation. Nobody should have any doubt about this.”
So far eight people have died and 24 more were injured, but those tolls are expected to rise.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia was targeting energy infrastructure – and civilians.
“They want panic and chaos, they want to destroy our energy system. They are hopeless,” he said.
“Such a time and such targets were specially chosen to cause as much damage as possible.”
“Russia is trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth,” he added.
Buildings – including the empty German consulate in Kyiv – and cars were left abalaze in the wake of the attack.
And in an eerie similarity to the Crimea bridge explosion, the Klitschko bridge, which opened in 2019 and is popular with walkers and cyclists, was seen engulfed in a fireball as a missile struck at around 8am local time.
The 212-metre bridge is normally packed with pedestrians and street performers, with a motorway running underneath. It is not clear if anyone was killed or hurt in the explosion.
An explosion rocks the Klitschko bridge in Kyiv
The Kerch bridge is seen on fire over the weekened after an attack in Russian-annexed Crimea.
Loud blasts were heard in the centre of Kyiv early on Monday and graphic videos show missiles exploding metres away from civilians.
The explosions took place around 8am local time, with air raid sirens sounding in the Ukrainian capital more than an hour before the blasts.
Videos posted on social media showed black smoke rising above several areas in the city.
‘There are civilians who died. People burning in cars in which they went to work.’ @den_kazansky
The strikes are a worrying escalation from Russia’s military, which has not targeted the city since June 26. Ukraine’s presidency confirmed there were strikes on “many” cities in Ukraine and not just the capital.
Shocking video captured from a girl’s smartphone showed the moment one of the missiles landed, narrowly missing her as she walked down the street.
The woman, just metres from death, was lit up by the flash from the blast and exclaimed as she rushed away.
“A girl was recording herself as she walked through what looks like Shevchenko Park in Kyiv this morning. She was almost killed by a Russian rocket,” Wall Street Journal reporter Matthew Luxmoore tweeted.
“Several missile strikes in the center of Kyiv. Burning cars with people who were commuting to work. The strike was deliberately carried out during rush hour on a busy street to inflict maximum losses and intimidate. A pure act of terrorism,” security expert Maria Adeeva said.
Analysts say Putin has timed the strikes to “maximise civilian causalities”.
“(This is) the biggest series of salvoes since the war began. Putin’s rage is unlikely to significantly weaken Ukraine’s military ability, but it will increase Ukrainians’ motivation to fight,” foreign affairs expert Yaroslav Trofimov tweeted.
More footage emerged later on Monday, with one video showing a man walking along Kyiv’s Bridge of Glass and narrowly missing a blast just off screen.
Another blast was filmed near what appears to be Kyiv’s main railway station.
“Ukraine is under missile attack. There is information about strikes in many cities of our country,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, said on social media, calling on the population to “stay in shelters”.
G7 leaders will meet with Zelensky in emergency talks on Tuesday to discuss the latest Russian attacks on Ukraine.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has already spoken by phone with Zelensky and assured him “of the solidarity of Germany and the other G7 states”, spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said.
“Germany will do everything in its power to mobilise additional aid and, in particular, to help repair and restore (Ukraine’s) damaged and destroyed civilian infrastructure, such as the electricity and heating supply,” Hebestreit said.