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Ukraine: Explosions rock Kyiv, other cities

Ukraine’s presidency has said the country is under “missile attack.” Meanwhile, Russia’s president has accused Ukraine of orchestrating the blast on Kerch Bridge.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitchko said multiple blasts hit a central district in the Ukrainian capital on Monday. 

“Several explosions in the Shevchenkivskyi district — in the center of the capital. All services are going to the places. Details later,” he wrote on Telegram.

The district houses a university, several government offices and includes the historic old town.

Eyewitnesses in Kyiv told Reuters news agency an explosion left a massive crater at one of the capital’s busiest intersections, with emergency workers treating wounded people in the street.

The blasts come after months of relative calm in the capital, which has been spared most of the fighting that has raged in Ukraine’s east.

A spokesperson for the Emergency Service in Kyiv told several media outlets there were an unspecified number of deaths and injuries, with rescuers at work in several locations.

Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said on his Telegram channel that at least five people were killed and 12 injured after the blasts in Kyiv.

Gerashchenko posted photos of people taking shelter in a subway station, and a missile strike hitting a pedestrian bridge in Kyiv.

He added a children’s playground was hit by the missile fire.

Meanwhile, an air raid alert is in effect for cities across Ukraine, with residents advised to take shelter. The blasts occurred as many people were heading to work.

The Ukrainian presidency said there were explosions in “many” other Ukrainian cities Monday morning.

“Ukraine is under missile attack,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, said on social media, advising people to take shelter.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram Monday that there were dead in wounded in explosions across the country, adding that Russia is trying to wipe Ukraine “off the face of the earth.”

Authorities reported explosions in the western city of Lviv and the central city of Dnipro.

The governor of Lviv, Maxim Kozytski, said in a statement strikes had targeted “energy infrastructure” facilities near the city.

Southeastern Dnipropetrovsk regional Governor Valentyn
Reznichenko said several people were killed and injured following
attacks around the industrial city of Dnipro.

 

Putin calls bridge blast ‘act of terrorism’ 

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the blast on Kerch Bridge was a terrorist attack orchestrated by Ukraine. He is to hold a meeting of his security council on Monday.

“There is no doubt. This is an act of terrorism aimed at destroying critically important civilian infrastructure. This was devised, carried out and ordered by the Ukrainian special services,” Putin said in a video on the Kremlin’s Telegram channel.

Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev said to TASS news agency, “Russia can only respond to this crime by directly killing terrorists, as is the custom elsewhere in the world. This is what Russian citizens expect.”

The Kerch Bridge is a key link between Russia and Crimea, built after Moscow illegally annexed the territory in 2014. It is also an artery for the port of Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea fleet is based.

Putin met Sunday with Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the Investigative Committee, who said the explosion on the bridge was caused by a vehicle that had traveled through Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, North Ossetia and Russia’s Krasnodar region.

Ukrainian special services were helped by Russians as well as other foreign nationals, he said in a video posted on Telegram.

 

What are the effects of the Crimea bridge blast? Retired US General Ben Hodges speaks to DW

Russian forces advancing toward Bakhmut, says UK intelligence

Over the past week, Russian troops have advanced 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) toward the strategically important town of Bakhmut, according to a daily British intelligence briefing.

“Russia continues to give high priority to its own offensive operations in the central Donbas sector, especially near the town of Bakhmut,” the report said.

On Friday, Russia-backed separatist forces said they had captured several villages in the vicinity of Bakhmut. On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said troops were involved in very tough fighting near the town.

Bakhmut is located on a main road leading to the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk.

 

UN General Assembly to open debate on Russia annexations

The UN General Assembly on Monday is set to open a debate on a draft resolution condemning Russia’s illegal annexation of four Ukrainian regions.

In violation of international law, Moscow claimed Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson as part of Russia following sham referendums in the regions.

After the debate, the 193 UN members are set to vote on the resolution, with no country wielding veto power. The matter is being brought to the General Assembly after Russia used its veto power to block a similar proposal in a Security Council meeting.

“Unless the UN system and the international community through the General Assembly react to this kind of illegal attempt, then we would be in a very, very bad place,” Swedish diplomat Olof Skoog who was involved in drafting the text, told reporters.

A failure by the General Assembly to act would give “carte blanche to other countries to do likewise or to give recognition to what Russia has done,” he added.

 

Overnight shelling in Zaporizhzhia destroys building

Shelling of the city of Zaporizhzhia overnight has destroyed an apartment building and caused injuries, Oleksandr Starukh, governor of the broader Zaporizhzhia region said early on Monday.

“As a result of a missile attack in the centre of Zaporizhzhia, a multi-story residential building was destroyed again,” Starukh said on Telegram.

Earlier on Sunday, another strike killed at least 13 and injured 87.

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