Kyiv, Ukraine — A massive barrage of Russian cruise missile and drone strikes hit critical infrastructure in Kyiv, Kharkiv and other Ukrainian cities early Monday, cutting off water and electricity in apparent retaliation for what Moscow said was a Ukrainian attack on its Black Sea Fleet.
Russia has stepped up its attacks on Ukrainepower plants and other key infrastructure as the war enters its ninth month. As a result, large parts of Ukraine are already experiencing continuous blackouts.
“The Kremlin takes revenge for military failures on peaceful people who find themselves without electricity and heating before winter,” Kyiv region governor Oleksii Kuleba said.
The Russian Defense Ministry said its forces conducted “strikes with long-range, high-precision air and sea weapons against Ukraine’s military command and energy systems.”
“The objectives of the strikes have been achieved. All designated targets have been achieved,” the ministry said in a statement.
Meanwhile, 12 grain-carrying ships left Ukrainian ports on Monday despite Russia’s threat to reimpose a blockade that threatened world hunger, Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry said. A ship has carried Ukrainian wheat to Ethiopia, where a severe drought is affecting millions of people.
Ukraine’s air force said it shot down 44 of more than 50 Russian-launched cruise missiles.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Russian missiles and drones hit 10 Ukrainian regions and damaged 18 sites, mostly energy facilities.
Hundreds of localities in seven Ukrainian regions were left without electricity, he said in a Facebook post, adding that “the consequences could have been much worse” if Ukrainian forces had not shot down most of the missiles Russians.
Thirteen people were injured in the morning attacks, National Police Chief Ihor Klymenko told state television.
Loud explosions were heard in the Ukrainian capital as residents prepared to go to work. Emergency services sent text messages warning of the threat of a missile attack, and air raid sirens blared for three hours during the morning commute.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said 80% of consumers in the city of 3 million were left without water due to damage to a power plant. By Monday evening, workers had reduced the percentage to 40% and the number of apartments without electricity from 350,000 to 270,000. To reduce energy consumption, authorities in Kyiv extended the intervals between metro trains and replaced trolleybuses and electric trams by buses, Klitschko said. Subway service resumed Monday evening.
Across Kyiv, hundreds of people lined up, often for more than an hour, to pump water by hand from wells to fill plastic bottles and cans.
“It has an influence on our lives, it’s really embarrassing,” said a 34-year-old resident, who only agreed to give his first name, Denis, when going to fetch water. “But the truth is that it’s not a problem. The problem is that we have a war.
Smoke rose from the left bank of the Dnieper in Kyiv, either from a missile strike or when Ukrainian forces shot it down.
Associated Press reporters saw soldiers inspecting a crater and debris from where one of the missiles landed on the outskirts of Kyiv. The missiles flew fast and low and sounded like bomb explosions, witnesses said.
“It was scary, actually,” said 28-year-old Oleksandr Ryabtsev, who was on his way to work. “I looked up and it was flying over there. You could see that cruise missile, I didn’t even go to work. I went home.”
Prime Minister Shmyhal said that in Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv regions, emergency power cuts were underway. “Today, as in previous weeks, it is important for Ukrainians to consume energy consciously and reduce the load on the grid,” the official said.
In the eastern city of Kharkiv, two strikes hit critical infrastructure, authorities said, and the metro stopped working.
Critical infrastructure sites were also hit in the Cherkasy region, southeast of Kyiv. In the Kirovohrad region in central Ukraine, an energy facility was hit, according to local authorities. In Vinnytsia, remnants of a missile that was shot down landed on civilian buildings, causing damage but no casualties, according to regional governor Serhii Borzov.
Electricity has been cut in parts of the Ukrainian railway network, Ukrainian Railways reported.
The attacks come two days after Russia accused Ukraine of launching a drone strike against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet off Russia’s annexed Crimean Peninsula. Ukraine has denied the attack, saying Russia mismanaged its own weapons, but Moscow still announced it was retaliating by ending its participation in a UN-brokered deal with Turkey to allow the safe passage of ships carrying grain from Ukraine.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar urged his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, in a phone call on Monday to “reconsider” Moscow’s suspension of its participation in the grain deal, which allowed the export of more than 9 million tons of grain from Ukraine. According to a statement, Akar hailed the agreement as an example of how issues can be resolved through “cooperation and dialogue” and said it was an “entirely humanitarian activity” that should be separated from the conflict.
Monday’s strikes were the third time this month that Russia has launched massive attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure. On October 10, a similar attack rocked the war-torn country following an explosion at the Kerch Bridge linking Crimea to mainland Russia – an incident Moscow blamed on Kyiv.
One of the Russian missiles shot down by Ukraine landed on a Moldovan border town, causing damage but no casualties.
The Moldovan Interior Ministry released photos showing a thick plume of smoke rising above the northern town of Naslavcea, on the border with Ukraine, as well as shattered windows.
In another development, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced on Monday that it had completed a partial troop mobilization, ostensibly fulfilling a pledge to end the call for 300,000 troops. Some human rights lawyers, however, have warned that only Putin can end the appeal by signing an executive order.
Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey; Karel Janicek in Prague; and Sabina Niksic in Sarajevo, Bosnia, contributed to this report.
Follow AP coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
This story has been corrected to show Monday’s strikes were the third major Russian barrage against Ukrainian infrastructure this month, not the second.