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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Putin says ‘mass strike’ on Ukraine is revenge for bridge attack

After missiles hit at least 10 Ukrainian cities, President Vladimir V. Putin warned in a televised address that “no one should have any doubt” that Russia will defend itself.

By Michael Schwirtz, Megan Specia and Austin Ramzy

Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed the broadest aerial assault against Ukraine’s civilians and critical infrastructure since the early days of Moscow’s invasion, hitting cities across the country Monday in far-reaching strikes that drew furious international condemnation.

Russia’s attacks killed at least 14 people nationwide and wounded 97 others, Ukrainian authorities said, and knocked out power and other key services in multiple cities. U.S. President Joe Biden condemned “the utter brutality of Mr. Putin’s illegal war,” and India and China, key trading partners of Moscow that have avoided direct criticism of Putin, renewed calls for immediate de-escalation.

Dozens of missile strikes — from Lviv in the west to Mykolaiv in the south and Kharkiv in the northeast — slammed into civilian areas during the morning commute and apparently also sought to cripple energy facilities as winter approaches. Putin said in a televised address that the strikes were in response to a blast that hit a key Russian bridge over the weekend, which he called a “terrorist attack.” He threatened further strikes if Ukraine continued to hit Russian targets.

Experts said it was too soon to say whether the attacks against mainly civilian targets would have a significant impact on Ukraine’s military, but they appeared designed to placate Russian hard-liners who have been calling for Putin to intensify the war. As Ukrainian troops have reclaimed more than 1,200 miles of territory in the east and south, Putin has faced mounting criticism of his army’s performance and growing opposition to his call-up of hundreds of thousands of civilians into military service.

Here are the latest developments:

— As at least 11 Ukrainian cities came under attack, electrical stations and waterworks were among the main targets, leaving several cities with power and water outages. The explosions blew out the windows of buildings in central Kyiv, set vehicles ablaze and sent residents scrambling for shelter at a time when many were heading to school or work.

— The leaders of the Group of 7 nations will hold a virtual summit today to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine, a European Union official said.

— The leader of Belarus, an ally of Putin’s, said thousands of Russian troops would return to the country, a possible replay of the military buildup that preceded Moscow’s invasion. The Ukrainian military said Russia had launched drones from Belarusian territory as part of Monday’s attacks, and Moldova protested after it said Russian missiles fired from the Black Sea flew over its airspace.

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