Russia on Monday launched one of its largest barrages of missile strikes in Ukraine in its first major coordinated attack on Ukrainian energy and communication infrastructure across the country, marking a significant escalation of the war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the missile strikes targeted the “energy, military command and communications facilities of Ukraine.” The missile barrage came after the truck bombing of the Kerch Bridge, which connects the Russian mainland to Crimea.
A day earlier, Putin called the Kerch Bridge bombing a Ukrainian “terror act” and Ukrainian sources confirmed to US media that Kyiv was responsible.
Monday’s strikes targeted nearly every region of Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, where missiles hit the city’s center. Other major cities that were targeted include Kharkiv, Dnipro, Lviv, and Odessa.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said 11 key infrastructure facilities were damaged in eight separate regions including Kyiv, leaving parts of the country with no electricity, heat, water, or internet. So far, Ukrainian authorities have reported 11 people killed in the missile strikes.
Putin warned of a further escalation if Ukrainian attacks on Russian infrastructure continue. “If attempts continue to carry out terror attacks on our territory, Russia’s responses will be tough and by their scope correspond to the level of threats created for the Russian Federation,” he said.
Monday’s missile strikes marked a new approach for Putin in his war as Russia had previously avoided wide-scale attacks on civilian infrastructure, which is a standard tactic for invasions carried out by the US military. For example, the initial phase of the 2003 invasion of Iraq started with a major bombing campaign against infrastructure, known as “shock and awe.”
The initial phase of Russia’s war did involve wide-scale missile strikes across Ukraine, but the targets were primarily military infrastructure. Russia had targeted energy infrastructure with strikes after Ukraine made gains in Kharkiv in September, but nowhere near the scale of Monday’s strikes.
The new phase of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine came after Russia appointed Gen. Sergei Surovikin as the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine on Saturday. Surovikin had previously led Russian forces in Syria.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Monday that the missile barrage was a success and that it hit all targets. “The goal of the strike has been achieved. All designated targets were hit,” the ministry said.
In response, President Biden condemned the strikes and said the US would continue supporting Ukraine. “These attacks only further reinforce our commitment to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes. Alongside our allies and partners, we will continue to impose costs on Russia for its aggression,” he said.