KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia’s military hurled a barrage of missiles against Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, early Monday, striking civilian targets in what could be Moscow’s retaliation for the bombing of a key bridge connecting Russia to its annexed territory of Crimea.
The first strikes on Kyiv in four months targeted the center of the city and left dead and wounded, an Emergency Service spokesperson told the AP.
Blasts were reported in the city’s Shevchenko district, a large area in the center of Kyiv that includes the historic old town as well as several government offices, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said.
Lesia Vasylenko, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, posted a photo on Twitter showing that at least one explosion occurred near the main building of the Kyiv National University in central Kyiv.
After the first early morning strikes in Kyiv, more loud explosions were heard later in the morning in an intensification of Russia’s attack that could spell a major escalation in the war.
Meanwhile, Associated Press journalists in the center of Dnipro city saw the bodies of multiple people killed at an industrial site on the city’s outskirts. Windows in the area had been blown out and glass littered the street.
Ukrainian media also reported explosions in a number of other locations, including the western city of Lviv that has been a refuge for many people fleeing the fighting in the east, as well as Kharkiv, Ternopil, Khmelnytskyi, Zhytomyr and Kropyvnytskyi.
In Lviv, energy infrastructure was hit, Regional Governor Maksym Kozytskyi said.
The explosions were heard by AP journalists and appeared to be the result of missile strikes.
The multiple strikes came a few hours before Russian President Vladimir Putin was due to hold a meeting with his security council, as Moscow’s war in Ukraine approaches its eight-month milestone and the Kremlin reels from humiliating battlefield setbacks in areas it is trying to annex amid a Ukrainian counteroffensive in recent weeks.
A day earlier, Putin had called the attack on the Kerch Bridge to Crimea a terrorist act carried out by Ukrainian special services. In a meeting Sunday with the chairman of Russia’s Investigative Committee, Putin said “there’s no doubt it was a terrorist act directed at the destruction of critically important civilian infrastructure.”
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