On Monday morning, October 10th, dozens of Russian cruise missiles hit critical infrastructure facilities all over Ukraine, including in its capital, Kyiv. According to the latest estimates, the attacks killed 11 people, while leaving 64 wounded. They are the largest strikes ordered by Moscow since the war’s start.
Besides the headquarters of Ukraine’s Security Service in the capital of Kyiv’s center, intersections, parks, and tourist sites were caught in strikes as well. More explosions were reported in Lviv, Ternopil, and Zhytomyr in western Ukraine; Dnipro and Kremenchuk in central Ukraine; Zaporizhzhia in the south, and Kharkiv in the east. Air raid sirens whined all throughout the day, as residents took refuge in bomb shelters.
Making an assessment of the material damage, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that “dozens of missiles hit energy infrastructure facilities in 11 regions and the city of Kyiv.” These left the power supply disrupted throughout much of the country, impacting the water supply in eight different regions.
These facilities would be promptly restored however, as “the government, together with all responsible departments,” had “begun to implement an operational plan for restoring the damaged facilities,” Shmyhal wrote on Telegram, confident that most of these would be up and running that same day.
During a Security Council meeting on Monday, held just after the attacks, Russian president Putin said that “a massive strike by Russia’s long-range, air-, sea- and ground-based precision weapons was delivered against Ukrainian energy, military command, and communications facilities.” He also vowed Russia would “respond toughly,” should Kyiv make any further attempts to carry out terror attacks on Russian territory, an implied reference to Ukraine’s attempted sabotage of the Kerch bridge last Saturday.
In a televised address, Putin specified that “the Kyiv regime, with its actions, has put itself on the same level as international terrorist organisations. With the most odious groups. To leave such acts without a response is simply impossible.”
On Twitter, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the attacks by saying that, through these, “the world once again saw the true face of a terrorist state that is killing our people. On the battlefield and in peaceful cities. A country that covers its true bloody essence and goal with talks about peace. It proves that the liberation of Ukraine is the only basis of peace & security.”
In a filmed video message, he said the strikes, chosen to occur at “such a time” and [at] such targets were “to cause as much damage as possible,” both to energy infrastructure and people.
Soon afterwards, other Western organizations and leaders joined in.
According to a statement by the European Commission, “these barbaric attacks only show that Russia is opting for a tactic of indiscriminately bombing civilians.”
Its chief, Ursula von der Leyen released a separate video message, in which she professed to be shocked by the “vicious attacks on Ukrainian cities, “adding that “Putin’s Russia has again shown the world what it stands for: brutality and terror.”
The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, called up Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, to whom he pledged “more EU support.”
In a tweet of his own, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister called Putin “a terrorist who talks with missiles.”
Russia’s retaliation marks a new phase in the now almost eight-month-long war in Ukraine. The Kremlin, it would appear, has expanded its list of valid military targets.
It might suggest that the Kremlin has de facto switched from defining its invasion of Ukraine as a “special military operation” to an “anti-terrorist” one—through which certain legal restraints can be dispensed with, at least according to Russian law. The appointment of a new commander, Syrian veteran General Sergei Surovikin, to lead the Russian army in Ukraine would lend that theory additional credence.
Politically also, the Kremlin has much to gain by this, as—in light of Ukraine’s recapturing of large swathes of territory (partly due to Russia’s pivot to the city of Bakhmut)—its handling of the war had been subjected to fierce criticism by not only its own citizenry, but by its military brass—with Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s Chechnya region, among them.
Now persuaded after Monday’s attacks, Kadyrov said he was “100% satisfied with how the special military operation is being conducted”—a “special military operation” that, soon enough, will be joined by a sizable contingent of reservists.