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Deadly missile strikes hit Kyiv as explosions reported in other cities across Ukraine

Emergency workers clear debris from the crater of a missile strike at a bus stop in a residential area of Dnipro, Ukraine. Missiles struck multiple cities across the country Monday morning.
Kat Lonsdorf
Emergency workers clear debris from the crater of a missile strike at a bus stop in a residential area of Dnipro, Ukraine. Missiles struck multiple cities across the country Monday morning.

The attacks came only hours after Russia blamed Ukraine for a weekend explosion that partially damaged a strategic bridge that connects Russian-occupied Crimea to mainland Russia.

KYIV and DNIPRO, Ukraine — Explosions rocked several cities across Ukraine in the most extensive attack on the country since Russia invaded in February. The attacks came only days after an explosion partially damaged a bridge strategic to Moscow that connects Russian-occupied Crimea to mainland Russia.

Ukrainian emergency services report that several people are dead across the country, including at least five people in the the capital Kyiv, which hasn't been hit since June. It's also the closest strike to the center of the city since the war began, hitting slightly more than 1,000 yards from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office.

"This morning, a massive high-precision strike was conducted on Ukrainian energy infrastructure, military command, and communications," said Russian President Vladimir Putin. "In case Ukrainian terrorist attacks continue on Russian territory, our response will be tough and proportional."

Local media from the Kharkiv region in the east to Lviv region in the west reported outages and downed communications. Rescue efforts across Ukraine were slowed due to repeated volleys of explosives coming from the sky.

President Zelenskyy said in a video posted to social media that the strikes disproportionately targeted civilian infrastructure in 11 of Ukraine's 25 regions, including power plants and water heating facilities.

"It's a tough morning when you're dealing with terrorists," said Zelenskyy in the video, which recalled the selfie he took the night Russia invaded in February. "They're choosing targets to harm as many people as possible."

At least 16 cities sustained attacks, many of which have not been fired upon since this spring.

In Kyiv, Ukraine Culture Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko said at least two museums and the National Philharmonic sustained heavy damage. Meanwhile, a nearby strike damaged the country's main passenger terminal in the capital, delaying trains during this morning's rush hour, according to Ukraine's National Railway.

Explosions rocked civilian areas of Dnipro, a major southern city. Strikes also hit parts of Lviv, Ukraine's westernmost city close to the Polish border, knocking out power and sending school children home.

The country's defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, writing on Twitter, said that strikes on civilian areas are "war crimes."

Ukraine's top brass released a statement that said that the country's air defenses took down at least 40 incoming air attacks, but several dozen more got through. Ukrainian officials blame Iranian-made suicide drones launched from Belarus and the Black sea for many of the attacks. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has allowed Russia to use his country as a staging ground for attacks on Ukraine and after today's attacks requested further assistance from the Russian government in anticipation of Ukrainian retaliation.

Russian state media reported to have only attacked Ukraine's military infrastructure. "We warned Zelenskyy that Russia hadn't really started yet," wrote Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a loyalist to Russian President Vladimir Putin. "Run, Zelenskyy, run, and never look back," he added.

In response to Monday's attacks, the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv reiterated its calls for Americans to leave the country.

Gregory Warner contributed from Lviv, Ashley Westerman and Polina Lytvynova contributed from Kyiv, and Hanna Palamarenko contributed from Dnipro.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Julian Hayda
Jason Beaubien
Jason Beaubien is NPR's Global Health and Development Correspondent on the Science Desk.