Russian forces launched a wide-ranging attack on Ukraine Monday, bombarding at least 10 cities—including the nation’s capital, Kyiv—in an assault seen as retaliation for an explosion over the weekend that damaged a key bridge linking Russia with Crimea.
In a video released Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the deadly blast on the 12-mile strategic bridge “an act of terrorism aimed at destroying critically important civilian infrastructure.”
“This was devised, carried out, and ordered by the Ukrainian special services,” Putin declared.
Ukrainian officials were dismissive of the accusation. According to the Financial Times, “Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the bridge attack, although officials posted several comments mocking Russia on social media and the Ukrainian post office has issued a commemorative stamp.”
Russia’s bombing campaign Monday came in the eighth month of the Ukraine invasion, which has killed thousands and displaced millions.
Reuters reported that Russian forces “struck cities across Ukraine during rush hour,” firing “cruise missiles… into busy intersections, parks, and tourist sites in the center of downtown Kyiv, with an intensity unseen even when Russian forces attempted to capture the capital early in the war.” Monday marked the first time in months that Russia has bombed the Ukrainian capital.
“Explosions were also reported in Lviv, Ternopil, and Zhytomyr in Ukraine’s west, Dnipro and Kremenchuk in central Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia in the south, and Kharkiv in the east,” the outlet continued. “Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the rush hour attacks appeared to have been deliberately timed to kill people. In Kyiv, the body of a man in jeans lay in a street at a major intersection, surrounded by flaming cars. In a park, a soldier cut through the clothes of a woman who lay in the grass to try to treat her wounds. Two other women were bleeding nearby.”
Ukrainian authorities said that at least five people were killed in the attack.
Direct peace talks between the leadership of Russia and Ukraine have been nonexistent for months as the war has continued to intensify, with Putin issuing nuclear threats and western governments—led by the United States—pouring heavy weaponry into Ukraine.
The bridge explosion on Saturday heightened concerns that the war could devolve into a catastrophic nuclear conflict unless nations involved in the conflict make an urgent and coordinated push for a diplomatic resolution, as dozens of countries have demanded.
“Blowing up the bridge to Crimea, just one more step towards nuclear Armageddon,” warned Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the peace group CodePink. “Time for a ceasefire and negotiations perhaps?”