Ukrainian officials reported a new barrage of Russian missile strikes across the country on Monday, an attack that was anticipated as Russia seeks to disable Ukraine’s energy supplies and infrastructure with the approach of winter.
Media reports referred to explosions in several parts of the country, including the cities of Odesa, Cherkasy and Kryvyi Rih.
In Odesa, the local water supply company said a missile strike cut power to pumping stations, leaving the entire city without water.
Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, wrote on Telegram: “The enemy is again attacking the territory of Ukraine with missiles!”
Air raid alerts sounded across the country, and authorities urged people to take shelter.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, drove a truck across a bridge linking his country to the Crimean Peninsula following its repair from a bombing in October that had embarrassed Moscow.
Mr Putin’s journey across the bridge over the Kerch Strait was an important sign that Russia was able to repair the span quickly after the truck bomb which severed a key link from Crimea to the mainland. He also spoke to workers and discussed the repairs with a senior government official responsible for the project.
The attack disrupted travel on one of the two automobile sections of the bridge to Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. Russia blamed Ukrainian military intelligence and responded with waves of strikes on Ukraine’s energy facilities and other key infrastructure.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, Yuriy Ihnat, said Russia launched land-based missiles from southern Russia and shipborne missiles from the Caspian and Black Seas. Russian strategic bombers also launched missiles, he said.
He warned that the Russians could attack in several waves to make it more difficult for the Ukrainian air defences to shoot down the missiles.
Earlier on Monday, Russian media reported that explosions had rocked two air bases in Russia.
One reportedly happened at a base which houses nuclear-capable strategic bombers that have been involved in launching strikes against Ukraine.
Neither Ukrainian nor Russian authorities immediately commented on the possible cause of the blasts.
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti said three servicemen were killed and six others injured when a fuel truck exploded at an air base in Ryazan in western Russia early on Monday.
A plane was also damaged in the blast at the base, which houses long-range flight tankers that serve to refuel bombers in the air.
Separately, authorities in the Saratov region along the Volga River said they were checking reports about an explosion in the area of the Engels air base, which houses Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers that have been involved in launching strikes on Ukraine. Those bombers are capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
Saratov regional governor Roman Busargin said there was no damage to civilian facilities and added that the authorities were checking whether there had been any incidents at military facilities.
Regional media reported sounds of a powerful explosion near the Engels base, and some residents were quoted as saying they saw a flash of light coming from the area.
Asked whether Vladimir Putin had been briefed about the Engels base explosion, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the president is being regularly informed about ongoing developments.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, mocked the Russians over the drone attack on Engels, stopping short of claiming responsibility.
“The Earth is round – discovery made by Galileo. Astronomy was not studied in Kremlin, giving preference to court astrologers. If it was, they would know: if something is launched into other countries’ airspace, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to departure point,” he tweeted.
Mr Zelensky’s office said three rocket strikes hit the president’s hometown of Kryvyi Rih in south-central Ukraine, killing a factory worker and injuring three other people.
In the north-eastern region of Kharkiv, a person was killed in strikes by S-300 missiles on civilian infrastructure in the town of Kupyansk, it said.
The war that began with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 has displaced millions from their homes, killed and injured an untold number of civilians, and shaken the world economy – notably through the fallout on the prices and availability of foodstuffs, fertiliser and fuel that are key exports from Ukraine and Russia.
Western countries on Monday began imposing a 60-dollars-per-barrel price cap and a ban on some types of Russian oil, part of new measures aimed at stepping up pressure against Moscow over the war.
The move has prompted a rejection from the Kremlin and also criticism from Mr Zelensky – whose government wants the cap to be half as high.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who is in charge of energy issues, warned in televised comments on Sunday that Russia will not sell its oil to countries that try to apply the price cap.
“We will only sell oil and oil products to the countries that will work with us on market terms, even if we have to reduce output to some extent,” he said in televised remarks hours before the price cap came into effect.
The 27-country European bloc also imposed an embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea.
Russia, the world’s second biggest oil producer, relies on the sale of oil and gas to underpin its economy, which has already come under sweeping international sanctions over Mr Putin’s war in Ukraine.
In recent weeks, Russia has been pounding Ukrainian infrastructure – including power plants – with military strikes and keeping an offensive going in the east, notably in and around the town of Bakhmut.
Russian forces have also been digging in near the southern city of Kherson, which was recaptured by Ukrainian forces last month after an eight-month occupation.