Putin vows revenge for 'terrorist act' after Crimea Bridge explosion
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Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told the Daily Express “we will see this through to the end” after holding a call with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.
Western allies are expected to ramp up the supply of weapons, with Kyiv calling for air defence systems, tanks and fighter jets to repel Russian forces.
Barbaric Putin yesterday ordered the most widespread air strikes since the start of the war, raining cruise missiles on busy cities during rush hour, killing at least 11 people and injuring more than 60, after a series of devastating setbacks for the Kremlin, including the bombing of the Kerch bridge in Crimea.
Russian forces also used Iranian-made kamikaze drones to wreak fresh terror on a nation already weary from war.
Swathes of the country were plunged into darkness as Moscow’s forces targeted energy infrastructure and civilians as they travelled to work, university and school.
President Voldomyr Zelensky said the UK must lead Western allies in the “protection of our skies” after Vladimir Putin unleashed a wave of terror across Ukraine in a brutal escalation of the war.
Earlier, he told his terrified but determined nation: “They are trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth.”
And Mr Kuleba said after a call with Mr Cleverly: “James Cleverly assured me the U.K will strengthen its unwavering support. I stressed we need air defence systems; Russia must be recognised a terrorist state. Just like the UK withstood the Nazi Blitz, Ukraine will withstand Russia’s missile blitz. Nothing will break us down.”
President Zelensky added: “We count on Britain’s leadership in consolidating international political and defence support for Ukraine, in particular regarding the protection of our skies.”
Russian cruise missiles slammed into office blocks and busy downtown areas, leaving people dying in the streets and palls of smoke spreading across the skyline.
Bombs also landed in Shevchenko Park, creating a huge crater next to a children’s playground. The hugely symbolic Klitschko pedestrian bridge – known for its glass panels – was also hit in the barbaric assault.
The head of Ukraine’s law enforcement said Monday’s attacks nationwide damaged 70 infrastructure sites, of which 29 are critical. The Ukrainian General Staff said 84 cruise missiles, some of which were fired by the Russian Black Sea Fleet and 24 drones were used. Ukrainian forces shot down 56 aerial targets, it said.
A commuter minibus, known as a “marshrutka” was struck near Kyiv National University during the morning rush hour. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the presidential office, said: “It is clear now that most of the missiles hit the power systems of different cities.”
He warned civilians that “you need to be prepared for the consequences of such shelling, up to rolling blackouts.”
Natalia Nesterenko, a mathematician, saw one missile fly by her Dnipro apartment balcony as she was working in her kitchen, then she heard two explosions. “It’s very dangerous. I immediately called my kids to see how they are because anyone can be hit — women, children,” she said.
Andriy Yermak, a senior adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, said the attacks were by “cowards fighting playgrounds, children and people.”
Explosions were also reported in Lviv, Ternopil and Zhytomyr in western Ukraine, Dnipro and Kremenchuk in central Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia in the south and Kharkiv in the east. Ukrainian officials said at least 11 people were killed and scores injured, and swathes of the country left without power.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told the Daily Express: “Our relations and conversations with the Ukrainian Government are as strong as ever.
“As the PM and I have stressed publicly, our commitment to Ukraine in defending themselves against Putin’s illegal invasion is steadfast and enduring. We will see this through to the end, shoulder to shoulder, with the Ukrainian people.
“It is not just the right thing to do for Ukraine, but with our partners and allies to send a strong message to the whole world that powerful aggressor nations cannot and must not think they can invade a neighbour with impunity.”
US President Joe Biden said: “The United States strongly condemns Russia’s missile strikes today across Ukraine, including in Kyiv.
“These attacks killed and injured civilians and destroyed targets with no military purpose. They once again demonstrate the utter brutality of Mr. Putin’s illegal war on the Ukrainian people.
“We offer our condolences to the families and loved ones of those who were senselessly killed today, as well as our best wishes for the recovery of those who were wounded. These attacks only further reinforce our commitment to stand with the Ukraine for as long as it takes.
“Alongside our allies and partners, we will continue to impose costs on Russia for its aggression, hold Putin and Russia accountable for its atrocities and war crimes, and provide the support necessary for Ukrainian forces to defend their country and their freedom.”
Kyiv resident Andrey Kuzmuk, 28, said: “It is a reminder to some people in Kyiv that war is far from over. These attacks are directed against the civilian population to intimidate us into surrender. Russia understands that they cannot win on the battlefield, so they are trying to destroy us morally.”
Germany said on Monday it was rushing long-promised air defence systems, capable of protecting an entire city, to Ukraine after Russia unleashed a barrage of missile strikes on the country.
Germany had earlier expected to deliver the first of several missile shield systems by year’s end, but Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said the first would now be “ready for the effective protection of people in the coming days”.
“The latest rocket strikes on Kyiv and many other cities clearly underline the importance of the rapid delivery of air defence systems to Ukraine,” she added.
And French President Emmanuel Macron said that the Russian atrocities Monday signalled a “profound change” in the conduct of the war. The “deliberate strikes by Russia over the whole of Ukraine’s territory and against civilians, it’s a profound change in the nature of this war,” Macron said.
Prime Minister Liz Truss said: “The appalling attacks on civilian areas in Kyiv and elsewhere are a clear sign of Putin’s desperation. Ukrainians are succeeding, and Britain will stand right behind them as we continue to provide vital military aid in Ukraine’s fight for freedom.”
Mr Putin confirmed they were a retaliation for Ukraine’s strike on the Kerch Bridge, a crossing between Russia and annexed Crimea that has strategic and symbolic importance.
Sir Jeremy Fleming, the head of Britain’s GCHQ, said: “We’re very proud of the role the UK has played in Ukraine’s defence. Far from the inevitable Russian military victory that their propaganda machine spouted, it’s clear that Ukraine’s courageous action on the battlefield and in cyberspace is turning the tide.
“Having failed in two major military strategies already, Putin’s plan has hit the courageous reality of Ukrainian defence. With little effective internal challenge, his decision-making has proved flawed. It’s a high stakes strategy that is leading to strategic errors in judgement.
“Their gains are being reversed. The costs to Russia – in people and equipment are staggering. We know – and Russian commanders on the ground know – that their supplies and munitions are running out.
“Russia’s forces are exhausted. The use of prisoners to reinforce, and now the mobilisation of tens of thousands of inexperienced conscripts, speaks of a desperate situation.”
President Zelensky declared yesterday: “The world once again saw the true face of a terrorist state that kills our people. Not only on the battlefield, but also in peaceful cities.
“A country that hides its bloody and criminal essence and purpose with talks about peace. This proves that the liberation of our entire land is the only foundation of peace and security.”
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