Putin vows more ‘severe’ attacks after Russian missiles batter Ukraine

1. Russia 1
Emergency service personnel stand near a residential building damaged after a strike on Zaporizhzhia on October 10, 2022. (Photo: National Police of Ukraine/AFP)

KYIV  — Russian forces launched a barrage of fatal bombardments across Ukraine early on Monday and President Vladimir Putin vowed even more “severe” retaliation against Kyiv.اضافة اعلان

The biggest wave of strikes across Ukraine in months killed at least 11 people nationwide and was apparent retaliation for an explosion this weekend that damaged a key bridge linking Russia to the Moscow-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

The Ukrainian military said Russian forces had fired more than 80 missiles on cities across the country and that Russia had also used Iranian drones launched from neighboring Belarus.

“Let there be no doubt,” Putin said in televised comments addressed to his security council, “if attempts at terrorist attacks continue, the response from Russia will be severe.”

Putin’s predecessor, Dmitry Medvedev, warned on social media that the strikes — which disrupted water and electricity services across Ukraine — were only “the first episode”.

Energy infrastructure targeted

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Russian strikes had aimed to take down Ukrainian energy infrastructure. Regional officials across the country confirmed widespread disruptions to services.

Russia’s defense ministry meanwhile confirmed it had targeted Ukrainian energy, military command, and communications facilities, claiming the strikes had been a success and “achieved their aims”.

Ukraine’s foreign minister said the attacks had not been “provoked” and the onslaught was Moscow’s response to a series of embarrassing military losses in eastern Ukraine.

Zelensky said on social media meanwhile that he had spoken with the leaders of France and Germany and urged them to “increase pressure” on Russia.

Crimean bridge attack

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Putin’s, meanwhile claimed on Monday that Ukraine was preparing an attack on his country’s territory.

He said Russia and Belarus would “deploy” troops together, without specifying where.

The autocratic leader also accused Ukraine, alongside neighboring Poland and Lithuania, of training Belarusian militants to carrying out attacks at home.

The strikes across Ukraine came a day after Moscow blamed Kyiv for the blast that damaged a bridge linking Crimea to Russia, leaving three people dead.

“The authors, perpetrators, and sponsors are the Ukrainian secret services,” Putin said of Saturday’s bridge bombing, which he described as a “terrorist act”.

The blast that hit the bridge sparked celebrations by Ukrainians and others on social media.

But Zelensky, in his nightly address on Saturday, did not directly mention the incident, and officials in Kyiv have made no direct claim of responsibility.

On Saturday, Russia said some road and rail traffic had resumed over the strategic link, a symbol of the Kremlin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

The 19km is also a vital supply link between Russia and the annexed Crimean Peninsula.

Some military analysts argue that the explosion could have a major impact if Moscow sees the need to shift already hard-pressed troops to Crimea from other regions — or if it prompts a rush by residents to leave.

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