Russia unleashes wave of missiles on Ukraine as West condemns Putin

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Russian President Vladimir Putin described the barrage of missile fire on numerous Ukrainian cities on Monday as a response to “terrorist attacks” on Russian territory and warned that even tougher strikes could come.

Putin’s remarks at a Russian Security Council meeting came as the seven-month-old war saw a dramatic escalation with the targeting of city centres and infrastructure across Ukraine.

The attacks killed 14 people and injured 97 across the country, according to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry on Monday evening. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his evening address put the toll at 12 deaths and more than 80 injuries.

International condemnation was swift, with world leaders using words such as “terrorism” and “war crimes.”

Russia fired more than 80 missiles across Ukrainian cities, the government in Kiev said, with air defence systems intercepting about half of them.

At least 36 were injured in the capital alone and deaths were reported, officials said.

Moscow’s rockets followed a weekend explosion that damaged the strategically important bridge connecting the annexed Crimean peninsula to mainland Russia. Putin blames Kiev for the attack on the infrastructure, which is used to supply Russian troops in Ukraine. Kiev has not taken responsibility.

Putin warned: “In case of continuation of attempts to carry out terrorist attacks on our territory, the responses from the Russian side will be harsh – and in their scale will correspond to the level of threat to the Russian Federation.”

The Russian attacks by air, ground and sea, which Moscow’s Defence Ministry said achieved their goals, were an “act of terror” according to Zelensky.

Kiev’s air raid alert was lifted in the early afternoon, after 5 hours and 37 minutes, the longest since the war began on Feb. 24.

City Mayor Vitali Klitschko urged residents to remain cautious.

Ukraine’s capital has been hit by Russian missiles several times since the beginning of the war, although Monday’s was the worst incident of its kind and the first attack on Kiev in months.

It follows Ukraine winning back territory lost earlier in the war as part of a counter-offensive. Putin’s attempt to change the narrative also comes amid problems with Moscow’s partial mobilization of new troops, with Putin saying on Monday that mistakes must be dealt with.

Russian rocket attacks were also reported in other parts of Ukraine, from Lviv in the far west to areas of the contested east.

Power failed in parts of the eastern city of Kharkiv following three Russian air attacks, with one targeting energy infrastructure, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said on the Telegram messaging app.

Parts of Lviv were also without power after damage to energy infrastructure. Ukraine called on all citizens to switch off electrical appliances in the evening to not overload the power grid.

Four deaths were reported by authorities as a result of a missile strike in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region, Mayor Vadim Lyakh said.

“Ukraine cannot be intimidated. We united even more instead,” Zelensky said in his evening video

address, which was recorded by a damaged road junction near a Kiev university rather than his well-secured presidential office as is usually the case.

Zelensky said that that there were only civilian targets in and around a park in front of the university and no military installations, which Russia said it had hit.

“The occupiers cannot confront us on the battlefield and that is why they resort to this terror,” Zelensky said.

U.S. President Joe Biden condemned the Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian cities as having “no military purpose.”

“They once again demonstrate the utter brutality of Mr Putin’s illegal war on the Ukrainian people,” Biden said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated the alliance’s support for Ukraine after speaking to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Stoltenberg “condemned Russia’s horrific [and] indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine” while UN Secretary General António Guterres was “deeply shocked” and India said it was “deeply concerned.”

European Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter: “These indiscriminate attacks on civilians are war crimes.”

After the latest escalation in the war, Group of Seven (G7) leaders plan to hold a video call with the Ukrainian leader on Tuesday.

Four deaths were reported by authorities as a result of a missile strike in the eastern Ukrainian city of Sloviansk in the Donetsk region, Mayor Vadim Lyakh said.

“Ukraine cannot be intimidated. We united even more instead,” Zelensky said in his evening video address, which was recorded by a damaged road junction near a Kiev university rather than his well-secured presidential office as is usually the case.

Zelensky said that that there were only civilian targets in and around a park in front of the university and no military installations, which Russia said it had hit.

“The occupiers cannot confront us on the battlefield and that is why they resort to this terror,” Zelensky said.

U.S. President Joe Biden condemned the Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian cities as having “no military purpose.”

“They once again demonstrate the utter brutality of Mr Putin’s illegal war on the Ukrainian people,” Biden said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated the alliance’s support for Ukraine after speaking to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

Stoltenberg “condemned Russia’s horrific [and] indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine” while UN Secretary General António Guterres was “deeply shocked” and India said it was “deeply concerned.”

European Council President Charles Michel said on Twitter: “These indiscriminate attacks on civilians are war crimes.”

After the latest escalation in the war, Group of Seven (G7) leaders plan to hold a video call with the Ukrainian leader on Tuesday.

Zelensky meanwhile had spoken to a number of leaders including Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

In further justifying Monday’s barrage, Putin claimed there had been three Ukrainian attacks on the Russiannuclear power plant in Kursk.

He also accused Ukraine of shelling the nuclear power plant occupied by Russian troops in the Zaporizhzhya region annexed by Moscow.

Despite his leader’s comments, Russian parliamentarian Yevgeny Popov told the BBC: “We’re not going to attack civilians in Ukraine, we’re not going to attack people.”

The UN General Assembly is currently deliberating on Russia’s recent annexations of parts of Ukraine in defiance of international law. (NAN)

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