KYIV/MOSCOW: Missile strikes on many Ukrainian cities including the capital Kyiv left people dead and wounded on Monday, the country's presidency said, a day after Moscow blamed Ukraine for an explosion on a bridge connecting Crimea to Russia, report agencies.
Ukraine is under missile attack. There is information about strikes in many cities of our country, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president's office, said on social media, calling on the population to stay in shelters.
Russia's last strike on Kyiv took place on June 26.
Several trees and benches nearby were charred from the blast, while several ambulances had arrived in the area.
The capital is under Russian terrorists' attack! Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said on social media, adding that the strikes had hit the city centre.
“If there is no urgent need, it is better not to go to the city today. I am also asking the residents of the suburbs about this -- do not go to the capital today”.
Videos posted on social media showed black smoke rising above several areas in the city.
Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Let's hold on and be strong.
The strikes came a day after Moscow blamed Ukraine for the blast on a bridge linking Crimea to Russia, leaving three people dead.
The authors, perpetrators and sponsors are the Ukrainian secret services, Russian President Vladimir Putin said of Saturday's Crimea bridge bombing, which he described as a terrorist act.
Putin was speaking during a meeting with the head of the investigation committee he has set up to look into the bombing, Russian news agencies reported.
President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Russia's response to any further Ukrainian attacks would be severe, after Moscow's forces carried out retaliatory missile strikes across Ukraine.
It was not possible to leave (Ukrainian attacks) unanswered. If attempts at terrorist attacks continue, the response from Russia will be severe and correspond to the level of threat, Putin said at the start of a televised meeting of his security council.
Let there be no doubt about it, Putin said.
In response to the attack, Putin said Russia carried out a massive strike with high-precision, long-range weapons ... on energy, military command and communications facilities in Ukraine.
Putin also accused Ukraine of launching three attacks on the Kursk nuclear power plant in Russia, about 85 kilometres (53 miles) from the Ukrainian border and of attempting to hit the TurkStream gas pipeline running from Russia to Turkey under the Black Sea.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces have destroyed almost all bridges and mined the roads along the border with Belarus, Anatoly Lappo, chairman of the State Border Committee of Belarus, said on Sunday. Minsk has accused Kyiv of planning imminent strikes on its territory.
Today, almost all border bridges have been blown up, and automobile and railway border routes are completely mined,” Lappo told Belarusian TV, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.
Ukrainian forces have fortified the border to the extent that they put anti-tank mines in three rows on the roads, Lappo said.
The troops Kyiv has sent to the border are “not border guards,” Lappo claimed.
“We are under pressure, they are aiming at our border guards, sometimes they shoot in the air, constant aerial reconnaissance is being carried out,” he added.
A day before the news broke, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry claimed that its ambassador to Belarus was summoned to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry and handed an official note saying that “Ukraine is planning to conduct a strike on the territory of Belarus.” The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that it “categorically rejects” the accusation, adding that it could be part of a Russian plan to “stage a provocation and further accuse” Kyiv.
Earlier this week, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko accused Ukraine of massing tens of thousands of soldiers near the border. While Lukashenko allowed Russian troops to enter Ukraine from its territory at the beginning of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, he said last week that Belarus’ role in the conflict is limited to self-defence and denying Ukraine the ability to “shoot Russians in the back from the territory of Belarus.”