A massive barrage of Russian strikes on Monday morning hit critical infrastructure in Kyiv, Kharkiv and other cities, knocking out water and power supplies in apparent retaliation for what Moscow alleged was a Ukrainian attack on its Black Sea Fleet over the weekend.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said its forces carried out “strikes with long-range high-precision air and sea-based weapons against the military command and energy systems of Ukraine.”
"The goals of the strikes were achieved. All designated targets were hit,” the ministry said in a statement.
Ukraine’s air force said it shot down 44 of more than 50 cruise missiles that were launched by Russia.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Russian missiles and drones hit 10 Ukrainian regions and damaged 18 objects, most of which are energy facilities.
Hundreds of localities in seven Ukrainian regions have been left without power, he said in a Facebook post, adding that “the consequences could have been much worse” if the Ukrainian forces hadn’t shot down most of the Russian missiles.
Loud explosions were heard across the Ukrainian capital in the early morning as residents prepared to go to work. Many received text messages from the emergency services about the threat of a missile attack, and air raid sirens wailed for three straight hours.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said that 80% of consumers in the city of 3 million people were left without water supplies because of the damage to a power facility.
Local authorities were working on restoring the supplies as soon as possible, Klitschko said, telling Kyiv residents in the meantime to “stock up on water from the nearest pump rooms and points of sale.”
Andriy Yermak, the head of the office of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, vowed that the attacks on civilian facilities would not weaken Ukraine's resistance.
“We will persevere, and generations of Russians will pay a high price for their disgrace,” Yermak said.
The attacks occurred just before Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and many top members of his government, including the foreign, defense and interior ministers, arrived in Kyiv in the latest show of support from European leaders for Ukraine.
Smoke was seen rising from the left bank of the Dnieper River in Kyiv, either from a missile strike or where it was shot down by Ukrainian forces.
A resident of the area said he heard four loud explosions that rocked the area.
“At first I thought I heard a jet going by, but then I realized it was a missile,” said Serhii, who refused to give his full name. “The explosions were so loud! I consider myself experienced and prepared for attacks like this. But it was way too close and loud. I was frightened, really frightened.”
Prime Minister Shmyhal said that in the Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv regions, emergency power shutdowns were underway. “Today, just like in previous weeks, it is important that Ukrainians consume energy mindfully and reduce the load on the grid,” the official said.
Kyiv region Gov. Oleksii Kuleba said one person was wounded and a number of houses were damaged in the morning attacks.
“The Kremlin is taking revenge for military failures on peaceful people who are left without electricity and heat before the winter,” Kuleba said.
In the eastern city of Kharkiv, two strikes hit critical infrastructure facilities, according to authorities, and the subway ceased operating. Officials also warned about possible power outages in the city of Zaporizhzhia resulting from the strikes there.
The Lviv region in western Ukraine was also targeted, but the missiles were shot down, Lviv Gov. Maksym Kozytskyy said.
Critical infrastructure objects were also hit in the Cherkasy region southeast of Kyiv. In the Kirovohrad region of central Ukraine, the energy facility was hit, according to local authorities. In Vinnytsia, a missile that was shot down landed on civilian buildings, resulting in damage but no casualties, according to regional Gov. Serhii Borzov.
Some parts of Ukrainian railways were also cut off from power, the Ukrainian Railways reported.
The attack comes two days after Russia accused Ukraine of a drone attack against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet off the coast of the annexed Crimean Peninsula. Ukraine has denied the attack, saying that Russia mishandled its own weapons, but Moscow still announced halting its participation in a U.N. and Turkey-brokered deal to allow safe passage of ships carrying grain from Ukraine.