In the most widespread attack on civilians since the early days of Russia’s invasion, President Vladimir V. Putin ordered a wide-ranging series of missile strikes against cities throughout Ukraine on Monday. These strikes impacted the centre of Kyiv as well as other places far from the front line.
Mr. Putin claimed that the strikes on nearly a dozen cities were an act of retaliation for an explosion that destroyed sections of a bridge linking Russia to the Crimean Peninsula. However, it appeared as though the strikes were also intended to appease Russian hard-liners who had been openly critical over the prosecution of the war.
Mr. Putin referred to the bombing of the Kremlin-built bridge, which was a humiliating blow, as a “terrorist act,” and he promised more attacks if the Ukrainian government continued to hit Russian objectives.
The airstrikes had little to no effect on the battlefield, where Russia has been steadily losing territory for weeks, but they devastated and bloodied communities all throughout Ukraine.
Buildings were brought down, windows were blown out, and fires broke out. As sirens blared out warnings of approaching cruise missiles and so-called kamikaze drones, civilians who were making their way to work in the morning scrambled to seek refuge wherever they could find it. According to the Ukrainian authorities, at least 14 people were murdered and 89 others were injured, and a number of towns were left without electricity or water as a result of the incident.
“There is no secure place,” claimed one Ukrainian resident of Kyiv named Alla Rohatniova, who had fled to the capital after her house in the Kharkiv area was devastated, only to find herself under assault once again after arriving there. “There is no safe place,” she added. “At this time, we do not know where they will launch their attack. It might be at any location.”
The deliberate targeting of civilian areas was met with widespread criticism from Western politicians.
Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the European Commission, expressed her shock and disgust at the violent assaults that have been carried out against Ukrainian towns. Once again, Russia under Putin’s rule has shown to the rest of the world what it stands for: cruelty and horror.
President Joe Biden issued the following statement after the recent assaults: “These actions only serve to further underscore our determination to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
Even nations that have typically refrained from voicing any criticism of the Kremlin since Russian forces stormed over the border of their neighbor’s country on February 24 have now spoken out against the Kremlin’s actions.
According to Ukrainian authorities, they were able to shoot down a few of the missiles, but a significant number of others managed to get away.
In spite of the fact that all of the missiles hit their intended targets, most observers believed that the assaults did not seem to have a significant impact on the capacity of the Ukrainian military to conduct war. It has been taking occupied towns back, one after the other, for the last several weeks.
According to Konrad Muzyka, a military expert with Rochan Consulting, the attack that Russia launched on Monday might very well wind up being counterproductive.
Even if Ukraine’s military personnel were spared, the country’s civilian population was not. The city of Lviv in the west, the city of Mykolaiv in the south, and the city of Kharkiv in the northeast were all damaged by the strikes. The city centre of Kyiv was bombarded by Russian artillery, which caused damage to a children’s playground, two museums, and a busy pedestrian bridge.
But as the day progressed, the objective of the assaults seemed to become more apparent: Moscow was set on destroying vital infrastructure in order to deprive Ukrainians of light and heat as winter drew closer.
On the other hand, it seemed as if people in the Russian capital were not very aware of what had occurred on Monday morning. People were lounging about in the sun in a hip district in Moscow, while in other parts of the city, residents were going about their daily lives, such as racing to work or appointments.
A reporter for The New York Times went around asking individuals for their thoughts on the strikes, and the majority of those persons said that they had not been paying attention to the news. Those who were aware of the strikes did not seem to be shaken by them.
Vladimir, an army veteran who works in construction and is 37 years old, applauded the most recent damage in Ukraine and referred to it as “just a tiny warning shot.” He also expressed his hope that further destruction will occur in the future. However, he claimed that the United States was Russia’s true adversary.
However, on Tuesday, Ukraine was the target of many attacks.
As the fighting progressed to the east and south of Ukraine, many people in Kyiv, which had been a target of Vladimir Putin’s invasion in the early days, had become more calm. The sandbags that were supposed to shelter the monuments and sculptures in the capital from explosions had started to get overgrown with weeds. Young people had been seen filling bars as late as Saturday night, with many of them raising a glass in celebration of the previous bridge assault that had so infuriated the Kremlin.
After that, the air-raid sirens began to wail their alarm.