By Hugo Bachega in Kyiv & James FitzGerald
People in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, had to queue for water after Russian missiles struck key facilities across the country on Monday.
An evening update from the city’s mayor, Vitaliy Klitschko, said 40% of consumers in Kyiv remained without water and 270,000 homes had no power.
Thirteen people were injured in the attacks nationwide, Ukraine said.
Russia said the strikes were aimed at Ukraine’s military control and energy systems and that all targets were hit.
They were partly in response to an attack on a Russian warship over the weekend, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday.
In its evening update, the Ukrainian military said it had shot down 45 out of 55 missiles that were launched.
For security reasons, the outside world is rarely shown the destruction of Ukraine’s critical infrastructure by Russian airstrikes.
Ukrainian officials say this is to avoid sharing information that could be used in future attacks, including locations hit – or potentially missed.
But the consequences of Monday’s strikes were everywhere to be seen. Rolling power cuts have been introduced in several regions.
Ukrainians in general have been urged to reduce what is already an “extremely frugal” electricity consumption, in the words of President Volodymyr Zelensky.
In Kyiv, street lights were turned off and trolleybuses replaced with conventional buses.
Long queues were seen across the city as residents lined up to collect water from pumps after their own supplies were cut.
As many as 80% of Kyiv’s consumers were said to have been left without running water in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.
Later, Mr Zelensky said in his evening address that work was continuing to reconnect households with their services.
Russia did not have the missiles to destroy “the Ukrainian will to live”, he added in a defiant message.
In addition to the capital, other areas affected by the strikes included Lviv, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv and Zaporizhzia.
Overall, 18 facilities – most of them energy-generating – were hit by missiles and drones in 10 regions, Ukrainian officials said.
Kyiv set for longer power cuts after air strikes
One of the missiles intercepted by Ukraine’s air defences landed in a border town in Moldova, causing damage to houses but no casualties, according to authorities in the neighbouring country.
Moldova later said a Russian embassy employee in Chisinau had been told to leave its territory, without specifying who the individual was.
The strikes on Monday came after Russia accused Ukraine of launching a drone attack on its Black Sea Fleet in the occupied Crimean Peninsula over the weekend; Kyiv has not responded to the accusation.
The strikes were partially intended as retaliation, according to President Putin, who responded to questions from reporters on Monday night.
Additionally, he claimed that Russia had suspended but not abandoned its participation in a UN-mediated agreement that guarantees the safe passage of ships carrying grain out of Ukrainian ports. However, earlier on Monday, Ukraine claimed that despite Russia’s withdrawal from the agreement, ships were still leaving.
The latest instance of what has come to be Russia’s strategy in Ukraine—targeting critical infrastructure before winter, when temperatures can drop as low as -20C—was the recent wave of attacks.
Ukraine claims that this is Russia’s response to its military setbacks as the Ukrainian army successfully mounts a counteroffensive to retake lost ground.
Oleksii Reznikov, the minister of defense of Ukraine, has claimed that Gen. Sergei Surovikin, who President Putin appointed as his new commander in Ukraine earlier this month, is responsible for the Russian campaign.
In a rare news conference last week, the minister said Russian forces had “changed their tactics” after the arrival of Gen Surovikin – whose nickname is Gen Armageddon – and “started openly fighting with the civilian population, not with the armed forces of Ukraine”.
The goal, he said, was to inflict “chaos and panic” in the population, “when it’s very cold and dark”.
President Zelensky has described this tactic as “terrorism”. Many Ukrainians say they are not afraid, though many are angry that civilians have again become the target.
Western leaders, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, have recently pointed out that deliberate strikes on key civilian infrastructure would constitute war crimes under treaties that define the “rules” of war, known as the Geneva Conventions. Moscow, however, denies culpability for any war crimes.
“Instead of fighting on the battlefield, Russia fights civilians,” Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian foreign minister, said on Monday morning – echoing a view shared by many of his compatriots.
Ukraine says it needs more air defence capabilities to defend its cities. Germany has already sent equipment, while the UK and the US have announced they will do so.
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