Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Monday that people were killed and injured in multiple missile strikes across Ukraine, including the first bombardment of the capital, Kyiv, in months. CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata said the strikes, which could signal a major escalation in the, appeared to be entirely punitive — retaliation meant to terrorize Ukrainian civilians in densely-populated urban neighborhoods, close to government buildings, with one even hitting a children’s playground.
The lethal barrage smashed into civilian areas, knocking out power and water, shattering buildings and killing at least 14 people. The bombardment came two days after Russia suffered a serious blow with the.
Ukraine’s Emergency Service said nearly 100 people were wounded in the morning rush hour attacks that Russia launched from the air, sea and land against at least 14 regions, spanning from Lviv in the west to Kharkiv in the east. Many of the attacks occurred far from the war’s front lines.
Though Russia said missiles targeted military and energy facilities, some struck civilian areas while people were heading to work and school. One hit a playground in downtown Kyiv and another struck a university.
The attacks plunged much of the country into a blackout, depriving hundreds of thousands of people of electricity and creating a shortage so severe Ukrainian authorities announced they would have to stop power exports to Europe starting Tuesday. Power outages also often deprive residents of water, given the system’s reliance on electricity to run pumps and other equipment.
The head of Ukraine’s law enforcement said Monday’s attacks damaged 70 infrastructure sites, of which 29 are critical. Zelenskyy said that of the 84 cruise missiles and 24 drones Russia fired, Ukrainian forces shot down 56.
Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said the strikes had no “practical military sense” and that Russia’s goal was to cause a “humanitarian catastrophe.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said his forces used “precision weapons” to target key energy infrastructure and military command facilities in retaliation for Kyiv’s “terrorist” actions — a reference to Ukraine’s attempts to repel Moscow’s invasion forces, including an attack Saturday on a key bridge between Russia and the annexed Crimean Peninsula that Putin called a “terrorist act” masterminded by Ukrainian special services.
Putin vowed a “tough” and “proportionate” response should Ukraine carry out further attacks that threaten Russia’s security. “No one should have any doubts about it,” he told Russia’s Security Council by video.
The explosions in Kyiv and other cities came just a day after Putin blamed Kyiv for the massivewith Russia. Crimea is a large Ukrainian peninsula that Russia eight years ago during a previous invasion. The annexation of that territory, like that he declared Russian soil last week, have been condemned as illegitimate and illegal by Ukraine, the United Nations, the U.S. and other countries.
The blast that hit the bridge sparked celebrations among Ukrainians and others on social media — but officials in Kyiv have made no direct claim of responsibility.
The Russian president has been under intense domestic pressure to take more aggressive action to stop a largely successful Ukrainian counteroffensive and to react forcefully to Saturday’s attack on the Kerch bridge, whose construction he used to cement his 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Putin’s increasingly frequent descriptions of Ukraine’s actions as terrorist could portend even more bold and draconian actions. But in Monday’s speech, Putin — whose partial troop mobilization order last month triggered an exodus of hundreds of thousands of men of fighting age from Russia — stopped short of an expected escalation from what he calls a “special military operation” to a counterterrorism campaign or martial law. Zelenskyy has repeatedly called on world leaders to declare Russia a terrorist state because of its attacks on civilians and alleged war crimes.
Zelenskyy emerged onto a street in Kyiv on Monday to record a selfie video with a message to his people and the world, denouncing Russia for the barrage of missiles which he said had targeted Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, and its civilians.
Zelenskyy’s wife, Olena, posted a video showing people sheltering on the stairs of a Kyiv subway station singing a Ukrainian folk song, “In a Cherry Garden,” whose final lines are: “My dear mother, you are old and I’m happy and young. I want to live, to love.”
“They have specifically chosen such a time and such targets to cause as much damage as possible,” the president said. “But we Ukrainians, we help each other, believe in ourselves, rebuild everything. Now the shortages of electricity may occur, but not the shortage of our defiance and our confidence in our victory.”
The strikes sent residents of Ukraine’s two largest cities — Kyiv and Kharkiv — into bomb shelters, including subway stations.
While air raid sirens have continued throughout the war in cities across the country, in Kyiv and elsewhere many Ukrainians had begun to ignore their warnings after months of calm.
Just as traffic was picking up Monday morning, a commuter minibus was struck near Kyiv National University. Nearby, at least one strike landed in Shevchenko Park, leaving a large hole near a children’s playground.
Another target was the Klitschko pedestrian bridge — a landmark in central Kyiv with glass panels. Closed-circuit video footage showed a huge explosion under the bridge, with smoke rising, and a man running away after the blast, apparently unhurt. No significant damage to the bridge was immediately apparent.
Air raid sirens sounded in every region of Ukraine except Russia-annexed Crimea for four straight hours.
Videos posted on social media showed black smoke rising above several areas of the city. Russia’s last strike on the capital was on June 26.
Associated Press journalists saw multiple bodies at an industrial site on the outskirts of Dnipro. Four people were killed and 19 injured in the city, officials said. Witnesses said one missile landed in front of a bus during the morning rush hour, damaging the vehicle but not killing any passengers.
Kharkiv was hit three times, Mayor Ihor Terekhov said. The strikes knocked out the electricity and water supply. Energy infrastructure was also hit in Lviv, regional Gov. Maksym Kozytskyi said.
Three cruise missiles launched against Ukraine from Russian ships in the Black Sea crossed Moldova’s airspace, said the country’s foreign affairs minister, Nicu Popescu.
As the European Union condemned Russia’s attack and said the targeting of civilians amounted to “a war crime,” Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed the “massive strike with long-range precision weapons.” It claimed the missiles had targeted “objects of the military command and control, communications and energy systems of Ukraine” and that “all assigned objects were hit.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “deeply shocked by today’s large-scale missile attacks” on Ukraine, his spokesman said in a statement, adding that the strike “constitutes another unacceptable escalation of the war and, as always, civilians are paying the highest price.”
Some feared Monday’s attacks may just be the first salvo in a renewed Russian offensive. As a precautionary measure, Ukraine switched all schools to online learning until at least the end of this week.
In an ominous move, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced Monday that he and Putin have agreed to create a joint “regional grouping of troops.” He offered no details.
Lukashenko repeated his claims that Ukraine is plotting an attack on Belarus, sparking fears he would take preemptive action. His defense minister, Viktor Khrenin, later issued a video warning Ukraine not to provoke Belarus, but added, “We don’t want to fight.”
CBS News correspondent Pamela Falk contributed to this report.