On Monday morning, Russia’s armed forces launched massive strikes on cities across Ukraine, including Kyiv, in retaliation for the explosion on the bridge linking Russia with the Crimean peninsula.
In his address at a meeting with permanent members of the Security Council, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed targets were Ukrainian energy infrastructure, military, and communications facilities.
“This morning, at the proposal of the Defence Ministry and in accordance with the plan of Russia’s General Staff, a massive strike was launched with long-range precision air, sea, and land-based weapons against Ukrainian energy, military, and communications facilities,” President Putin said on Monday.
Following the attacks, four regions in Ukraine – Lviv, Poltava, Sumy, and Ternopil – had no electricity. The electricity supply had also been partially disrupted in other parts of the country. At least 11 people were reported killed and 64 people were injured as a result of Russian attacks, according to Ukraine’s state emergency service.
The strikes across Ukraine aimed primarily at punishing the country for what President Putin calls “a terrorist attack masterminded by Ukrainian special services.” Speaking of Saturday's explosion on a 19-kilometer (12-mile) road and rail link to the Crimean peninsula, the Russian president warned of even more “severe retaliation” in the event of further Ukrainian attacks.
According to Vladimir Putin, “the Kyiv regime, by its actions, has actually put itself on the same level as international terrorist groups, and with the most odious of those. It is simply no longer possible to leave crimes of this kind without retaliation.”
Meanwhile, Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for the blast.
The Crimean Bridge, constructed by Russia after its seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, is seen as a vital supply route for Russian forces fighting in Ukraine. The bridge, which is also called Kerch bridge, was hit a day earlier by what Russian authorities are calling a truck explosion. Road and rail traffic on the bridge was temporarily halted, damaging the supply for the Kremlin’s forces, which are facing continued losses on the battlefield and mounting criticism at home.
Located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, Crimea became a bone of contention between Kyiv and Moscow in 2014, after Russia’s takeover of the peninsula. The Moscow-backed referendum held in March of that year reportedly revealed that over 90 percent of Crimea’s residents wanted the peninsula to be under Russian control. However, the vote was declared illegitimate by Ukraine, Western countries, and the United Nations.
Meanwhile, Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president who is now the deputy chairman of Russia’s security council, warned there would be more strikes to come.
“Ukraine would be a constant, direct, and clear threat to Russia,” the senior official wrote on his Telegram channel. “Therefore, the aim of our future actions must be the full dismantling of the political regime in Ukraine.”
Russia is facing a chorus of international condemnation over what the European Union called a "war crime" against civilians in Ukraine. European leaders have reaffirmed their support for Ukraine with EU Foreign Policy Chief Joseph Borrell saying such acts have “no place” in the 21st century.”