Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday that Russia had used missiles and Iranian-made drones to target civilians and Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in a series of deadly attacks.
A barrage of deadly explosions rocked several Ukrainian cities on Monday morning, including central Kiev, where at least eight people were killed, shattering months of relative calm in the Ukrainian capital.
The strikes came a day after the Russian leader blamed Ukraine for an explosion at a key Crimean bridge.
“This morning is difficult. We are dealing with terrorists. Dozens of missiles and Iranian Shaheds. They have two targets. Energy facilities all over the country,” Zelenskyy said in a video address on social networks.
“The second target is the people,” he said.
“They want panic and chaos, they want to destroy our energy system,” he said.
Zelenskyy said that in addition to Kyiv, the attacks also took place in Lviv in the west; Dnieper, Vinnytsia and Ivano-Frankivsk in central Ukraine; Zaporozhye in the south; and Kharkiv and Sumy regions in the east, among others.
“There may be a temporary blackout, but there will never be a break in our trust – our trust in victory,” Zelenskyy added.
Zelenskyy previously said in a statement that Russia is trying to wipe Ukraine off the face of the earth.
“In Ukraine, the air raid sirens don’t stop… Unfortunately, there are dead and wounded. Please don’t leave the shelters,” Zelenskyy said in an earlier statement, accusing Russia of wanting to “wipe us off the face of the earth.”
The military said the Iranian drones were launched from Belarus.
“The enemy used Iranian Shahed-136 drones in attacks from the territory of Belarus” and the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia, the Ukrainian military said in a statement on Facebook, adding that nine drones were “destroyed”.
Ukraine’s military chief said Russian forces fired at least 75 missiles into Ukraine.
“The terrorist country, Russia, has carried out massive missile and air strikes on the territory of Ukraine, also using attack drones. In the morning, the aggressor launched 75 rockets. 41 of them were shot down by our air defense,” said General Valery Zaluzhny on social networks.
The claim could not be independently verified.
At least three explosions were initially heard in Kyiv around 8:15 a.m. local time, during rush hour. An hour later, more explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital.
Before Monday’s attack, the last Russian strike on Kyiv took place on the 26th.
According to preliminary information, at least eight people were killed and 24 injured in one of the strikes in Kyiv, said Rostyslav Smirnov, an adviser to the Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said there had been “several attacks on the objects of the city’s critical infrastructure”.
A BBC reporter was broadcasting live during the first wave of strikes.
Lesia Vasylenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, posted a photo on Twitter showing at least one explosion near the main building of Kyiv National University in downtown Kyiv.
A video posted on social media appeared to show a park and pedestrian bridge severely damaged by the blasts.
The Kiev strikes set off an intense wave of attacks on targets across Ukraine.
The Ukrainian presidency said “many” cities in Ukraine had been hit.
Lviv Mayor Andriy Sadovy said parts of the city were without electricity and hot water after the Russian strike, The Guardian reported.
A telecommunications building was hit in the center of Dnipro, one of several strikes that claimed at least three lives.
The eastern city of Kharkiv was hit several times on Monday morning, knocking out power in some parts of the city.
Kharkiv Mayor Ihor Terekhov said the energy infrastructure building was hit and there was no electricity or water in some parts of the city.
Onlookers said two rockets hit a building in the west end of the city. A badly damaged bus could be seen on the street in front of the building, which was littered with rubble and broken glass.
The attacks came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin called the attack, which damaged a huge bridge linking Russia with its annexed territory of Crimea, a “terrorist act” directed by Ukrainian special services.
The Kerch bridge, which has important strategic and symbolic value for Russia in its faltering war in Ukraine, was hit by a truck bomb on Saturday. Road and rail traffic on the bridge was temporarily halted, damaging a vital supply route for Kremlin forces.
The head of the Russian Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, stated that Ukrainian special services and citizens of Russia and other countries participated in the attack. According to him, a criminal prosecution for a terrorist act has been initiated.
“We have already established the route of the truck,” he said, saying it was to Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, North Ossetia and Krasnodar, a region in southern Russia.
The president’s adviser, Mikhail Podoljak, called Putin’s accusations “too cynical even for Russia” in Kyiv.