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In The News

Russia Launches Revenge Strikes Against Civilian Targets In Kyiv And Across Ukraine

Photo of wounded civilians being treaeted in Kyiv on Oct; 10

Treating wounded civilians in Kyiv on Oct 10

Anna Akage, Meike Eijsberg, Shaun Lavelle, Jeff Israely and Bertrand Hauger

Russia has launched a barrage of missile strikes against Kyiv and other major cities, timing the attacks for maximum civilian toll to coincide with Monday morning rush hour.

The attacks are a direct response from Moscow to the explosion Saturday that severely damaged the bridge connecting Crimea to the Russian mainland. Three people reportedly died in that attack, which was a major victory for Ukraine, of symbolic and logistical importance, and an embarrassment for Russian President Vladimir Putin the day after his 70th birthday.

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Putin released a video address Monday morning, threatening more such strikes and referring to the Crimea bridge explosion as a “terrorist” attack.

There are initial reports Monday of dozens of casualties around Ukraine, including in the western city of Lviv and the country’s second biggest city, Kharkiv. Footage has been captured of debris and bodies in central Kyiv after missiles struck. There is also security footage that showed the moment a missile hit a pedestrian bridge in the Ukrainian capital.

A spokesman for Ukraine's air force says that at least 83 missiles have been launched at targets in Ukraine as part of the ongoing attacks, with as many as 40 shot down by anti-air defenses. The European Union has condemn Monday morning “barbaric” attacks as a war crime.

Many city residents across Ukraine returned to the underground metro and other bomb shelters where they’d spent many days and nights in the early weeks of the war, when Russia made an aborted attempt to conquer the capital and other major cities.

Zelensky Speaks From Hard-Hit Kyiv As Rescue Workers Look For Survivors

Screen shot of Zelensky's video Monday morning from Kyiv

Rescue workers are searching for survivors under the remains of buildings in Kyiv following Monday morning’s Russian missile strikes across Ukraine's capital.

“People are under the rubble [...] Rescuers and relevant services are working on the ground to save people as soon as possible,” Oleksii Kuleba, head of the regional military administration, said in a post on Telegram.

The attacks on the capital, while striking some infrastructure, also appeared specifically targeted at civilian objectives, including a children’s playground, a university and a pedestrian bridge.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video address on his Telegram channel, recorded in front of the President’s Office building in central Kyiv — just blocks away from where some of the missiles hit, as the Kyiv Independent notes.

The video — a reminder of Zelensky’s on-the-ground addresses that introduced him to the world the day after the Russian invasion — shows the Ukrainian president speaking among destroyed buildings and cars ablaze.

Its caption reads: “The 229th day of full-scale war. On the 229th day, they are trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth. Completely. Destroy our people who are sleeping at home in Zaporizhzhia. Kill people on their way to work in Dnipro and Kyiv. The air alarm does not stop throughout Ukraine. There are missiles hitting. Unfortunately, there are dead and wounded. Please do not leave shelters. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Let's hold on and be strong."

Pro-War Russians Gloating Over Morning Attacks

Pro-war commentators and public officials in Russia expressed glee and threatened more attacks on Monday after the missile strikes across Ukraine. In the 48 hours since the attack on the Crimea bridge, Russian war hawks had vehemently urged President Putin to respond forcefully:

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the Russian state-controlled media organization RT: "Here comes the answer."

Ramzan Kadyrov, lead of the Russian republic of Chechnya, addressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky directly: “We warned you, Zelensky, that Russia hasn't even started yet, so stop complaining like a cheapskate, and run away before it gets here. Run, Zelensky, run without looking back toward the West.”

The pro-Kremlin publication Readovka: "The day we've been waiting for. The blows to the centers of decision-making have started to arrive. It's in the canons of international practice: a terrorist attack is always followed by a retaliatory strike on the terrorists' lair."

Photo of cars burnt after missile strikes in Kyiv

Some of the destruction in Kyiv after Monday's missile attacks

Volodymyr Tarasov/Ukrinform via ZUMA

Macron And Scholz Speak With Zelensky, As World Reacts To “Cowardly” Attacks On Civilians

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz each held separate calls with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during which they reaffirmed their support for Ukraine in light of the ongoing missile attacks from Russia.

UK Foreign Minister James Cleverly stated that Russian attacks on civilian leaders were "unacceptable" and a "demonstration of weakness by [President Vladimir] Putin, not strength."

Members of the Group of Seven (G7) and President Zelensky will hold emergency talks on the situation in Ukraine on Tuesday, a German government spokesperson has confirmed. The European Union describes the "indiscriminate" Russian attacks on civilians in Ukraine as amounting to a "war crime" and the European Commission describes the missile strikes being seen in Kyiv and other cities as "barbaric and cowardly."

Crimean Bridge Explosion On Front Page

“Crimean bridge explosion shows Russia’s weakness” — De Volkskrant

Russia Racing To Restore Traffic Over Kerch Strait Bridge

Russia is racing to restore traffic over the Kerch Strait Bridge after it was damaged by a massive explosion on Saturday that Vladimir Putin has called a “terrorist” act. Opened in 2018, the bridge links Crimea to Russia and is both symbolic of Moscow's illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula and an important logistics hub to supply the Russian war effort.

Sergei Aksyonov, the Kremlin-installed leader of Crimea, said that as of yesterday, the bridge was open to cars but trucks and heavy-duty vehicles would have to cross using a free ferry. Aksyonov also said on his Telegram channel that Crimean authorities were still working on providing stable transportation links between the peninsula and mainland Russia.

The Russian Transport Ministry said 1,500 people and 162 heavy cargo vehicles had traveled by ferry since the explosion. And the country’s Defense Ministry said its forces could be fully supplied through existing land sea routes.

Lukashenko Announces Joint Belarus-Russia Task Force, May Be Prelude To Minsk Joining War

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Belarus and Russia will deploy a joint military task force in response to what he called an aggravation of tension on the country’s western borders. Lukashenko, who has attempted to keep out of the conflict, said Moscow and Minsk started to pull forces together two days ago, after the explosion on a bridge linking Russia to the Crimean Peninsula.

The remarks from Lukashenko, who has held power in Belarus since 1994, indicate a potential further escalation of the war, possibly with a combined Russian-Belarus joint force in the north of Ukraine, according to Reuters.

"Strikes on the territory of Belarus are not just being discussed in Ukraine today, but are also being planned," Lukashenko said at a meeting on security, without providing evidence for the assertion. "Their owners are pushing them to start a war against Belarus to drag us there."

He added that "We have been preparing for this for decades. If necessary, we will respond.”

This is a distinct change from the so-far ambiguous attitude of Belarus. President Lukashenko recently tried to distance himself from an escalating war but may eventually be forced to choose between supporting the West, risking demoralizing his allies and provoking a radical reaction from Russia, or joining Putin's war, risking turning Belarus into an arena of hostilities. He now seems to have chosen the latter.

Russia Praises “Thoughtful” OPEC Agreement On Oil Cuts

The Kremlin praised the decision by OPEC+ members last week to agree on sharp oil production cuts despite strong opposition from the U.S.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov praised the agreement Sunday as “balanced, thoughtful,” adding that it would be crucial in countering the "mayhem" caused by the U.S. on energy markets.

Last week, countries part of the OPEC alliance and their allies, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, decided to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day — the biggest cut since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to the agreement, calling it “shortsighted.” Production cuts will take effect in November.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Vulnerable Are The Russians In Crimea?

Ukraine has stepped up attacks on the occupied Crimean peninsula, and Russia is doing all within its power to deny how vulnerable it has become.

Photograph of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters with smoke rising above it after a Ukrainian missile strike.

September 22, 2023, Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia: Smoke rises over the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters after a Ukrainian missile strike.

Kyrylo Danylchenko

This article was updated Sept. 26, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

Russian authorities are making a concerted effort to downplay and even deny the recent missile strikes in Russia-occupied Crimea.

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Media coverage in Russia of these events has been intentionally subdued, with top military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov offering no response to an attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, or the alleged downing last week of Russian Su-24 aircraft by Ukrainian Air Defense.

The response from this and other strikes on the Crimean peninsula and surrounding waters of the Black Sea has alternated between complete silence and propagating falsehoods. One notable example of the latter was the claim that the Russian headquarters building of the Black Sea fleet that was hit Friday was empty and that the multiple explosions were mere routine training exercises.

Ukraine claimed on Monday that the attack killed Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. "After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored," the Ukrainian special forces said via Telegram.

But Sokolov was seen on state television on Tuesday, just one day after Ukraine claimed he'd been killed. The Russian Defense Ministry released footage of the admiral partaking in a video conference with top admirals and chiefs, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, though there was no verification of the date of the event.

Moscow has been similarly obtuse following other reports of missiles strikes this month on Crimea. Russian authorities have declared that all missiles have been intercepted by a submarine and a structure called "VDK Minsk", which itself was severely damaged following a Ukrainian airstrike on Sept. 13. The Russians likewise dismissed reports of a fire at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, attributing it to a mundane explosion caused by swamp gas.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refrained from commenting on the military situation in Crimea and elsewhere, continuing to repeat that everything is “proceeding as planned.”

Why is Crimea such a touchy topic? And why is it proving to be so hard to defend?

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