Poland tells its citizens to flee Belarus NOW as Putin blitzes Ukraine

Poland tells its citizens to flee Belarus NOW and carries out checks on its bomb shelters after Lukashenko announces ‘joint military task force’ with Russia and Putin blitzes Ukraine

  • Russian missiles unleashed across Ukraine is merely ‘first episode’, Putin ally Dmitry Medvedev warned today 
  • Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko said Russian units will combine with his own and deploy to border regions, raising fears he is laying groundwork to get involved in the war 
  • Putin ordered attack in retaliation for strike on Crimean Bridge at the weekend, which he blamed on Ukraine 
  • US President Biden has strongly condemned the widespread Russian missile attacks across Ukraine today  

Poland has told its citizens to leave Belarus and is carrying out checks on its bomb shelters after its dictator Alexander Lukashenko announced a ‘joint military task force’ with Russia amid today’s missile attacks on Ukraine. 

Putin let rip with 83 missiles at what he claimed were military, energy and communications networks in Ukraine. Kyiv said the missiles actually hit power plants and busy civilian areas in major cities, killing at least 11 and wounding scores more. It was Russia’s largest single barrage since the opening day of the war. 

Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko announced Russian units would combine with his own and deploy to the Ukraine border, accusing Kyiv of planning to attack with help from allies Poland and Lithuania. 

Warsaw has said Polish citizens in Belarus should leave the country as relations between the two countries have become increasingly tense, in part due to the war in Ukraine. 

‘We recommend that Polish citizens staying on the territory of the Republic of Belarus leave its territory with available commercial and private means,’ the government said in guidance for travellers published on its website.

KYIV: A rescuer helps an injured woman at the site of shelling, which Vladimir Putin said he ordered in response to ‘terrorist’ attacks on Russia

KYIV: A dead body lies in the streets after Russian missiles hit the Ukrainian capital for the first time in months, setting cars on fire and blowing up a park in a residential area

KYIV: Firefighters extinguish a burning vehicle as a dead body lies on the street (bottom right) following Russian missile strikes that targeted civilian areas and power stations

Relations between Warsaw and Minsk deteriorated in 2021 when Poland accused its eastern neighbour of orchestrating a migrant crisis on its border and have become even more strained since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Warsaw says that the Polish minority in Belarus faces repression from the state, with some community leaders having been imprisoned.

It comes as one of Putin’s staunchest allies warned the huge missile barrage unleashed on Ukraine today is merely the ‘first episode’ of Russia’s revenge for a blast which crippled the Crimea Bridge and ‘there will be others’.

Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian president himself, said Ukraine poses ‘a constant, direct and clear’ threat and that the Kremlin should aim to ‘completely dismantle the political regime of Ukraine’ which he described as ‘Nazi’. 

US President Biden has condemned the widespread missile attacks in Ukraine, saying they have targeted civilians and served no military purpose. 

‘The United States strongly condemns Russia’s missile strikes today across Ukraine, including in Kyiv. These attacks killed and injured civilians and destroyed targets with no military purpose,’ Biden said in a statement.

‘They once again demonstrate the utter brutality of Mr. Putin’s illegal war on the Ukrainian people.’

The United States has provided more than $16.8 billion worth of U.S. security assistance since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and imposed a wide-ranging array of economic sanctions on Moscow over its actions in Ukraine.

‘These attacks only further reinforce our commitment to stand with the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes,’ Biden said.

‘Alongside our allies and partners, we will continue to impose costs on Russia for its aggression, hold Putin and Russia accountable for its atrocities and war crimes, and provide the support necessary for Ukrainian forces to defend their country and their freedom.’ 

Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko appeared to be laying the groundwork to join the war amid today’s attacks. He announced Russian units would combine with his own and deploy to the Ukraine border, accusing Kyiv of planning to attack with help from allies Poland and Lithuania.

Belarus has acted as a staging ground for Russian attacks on Ukraine, but has not yet been involved in the fighting.

Polish interior minister Maciej Wasik said his government is now inspecting its bomb shelters to make sure they are fit for purpose, though insisted the move is ‘routine’ and not in response to Russia’s bombardment. Warsaw is preparing for the ‘darkest scenarios’ even if there is only a ‘small probability that they will occur’, he added. 

KYIV: Cars burn on the streets of the Ukrainian capital this morning after multiple missiles struck the city – the first time in months that it has been hit as Putin exacts revenge for strikes on the Kerch Bridge

83 Russian missiles were launched at Ukraine this morning in combination with Iranian drones, striking power stations, water supplies and civilians across the country – killing at least 11 and wounding scores more

DNIPRO: Bodies lie covered in blankets after Russia missiles struck the city in south-central Ukraine as emergency services arrive at the scene

ZAPORIZHZHIA: Rescuers attempt to extinguish the remains of an apartment building in southern Ukraine which was hit by a Russian missile overnight

LVIV: Smoke rises over the city in far-western Ukraine that has been largely spared the worst effects of the war after Putin unleashed a barrage of strikes in revenge for the Crimea bridge being hit

KYIV: A business centre in the Ukrainian capital that includes offices of South Korean technology giant Samsung were partially destroyed in a missile blast this morning

Vladimir Putin, speaking at a meeting of his security council today, vowed a ‘severe’ response to any future attacks on Russia as he confirmed firing a massive salvo of missiles at Ukraine

KYIV: An ambulance worker treats a civilian who was cut by flying shrapnel during a missile strike on the Ukrainian capital

KYIV: Ukrainians injured by flying shrapnel during Russian missile strikes on the capital this morning are patched up by military medics in a park close to where the rockets hit

KYIV: A civilian with blood running down his face has his head bandaged by a medic after he was injured in a Russian missile strike on the capital this morning

KYIV: A fireman helps a woman and her dogs to evacuate an office building in the capital after it was hit by Russian missiles

KYIV: A man cut by flying glass in a Russian missile attack is helped to his feet by passersby as Russia takes revenge for a strike on the Kerch Bridge in Crimea at the weekend

KYIV: A woman injured in a missile strike this morning receives treatment in the front seat of an ambulance

KYIV: Cars burn after Russian military strikes on cities across Ukraine as Putin takes revenge for the Crimea bridge blast

KYIV: A car burns this morning after a Russian missile attack left multiple people dead and injured, in apparent revenge for the bombing of the Kerch Bridge at the weekend

KYIV: A man wanders between the wreckage of burning cars after Russian missiles hit civilian targets this morning

ZAPORIZHZHIA: Rescuers work at a site of a residential building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine

ZAPORIZHZHIA: A firefighter rests by the ash-covered ruins of a car that was partially destroyed in a Russian missile attack

ZAPORIZHZHIA: Monday’s attack on the southern city comes after a weekend bombardment killed many as missiles struck civilian buildings

KYIV: Cars went up in flames with debris strewn across the street as multiple people were killed in brutal strikes ordered by the Kremlin this morning

KYIV: Firefighters attempt to put out blazes as a car burns following the missile strikes, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues

KYIV: President Zelensky speaks on the streets of the capital during a missile attack by Russia to accuse the Kremlin of deliberately targeting civilians in order to sow terror

KYIV: Cars burn and emergency services survey the carnage after the military strike, as Putin’s invasion of Ukraine continues

BBC journalist ducks for cover as Russian missiles hit Kyiv 

A BBC journalist was forced to take cover during a live broadcast this morning as Russian missiles slammed into Kyiv behind him.

Ukraine’s capital was hit by multiple strikes today – amid reports of blasts in several other cities – as Russian president Vladimir Putin’s revenge for an explosion which crippled the Crimea Bridge got under way.

 

 

At 8:18am local time, the BBC’s correspondent in Kyiv, Hugo Bachega, was delivering a news report on a roof in front of the city’s iconic golden-domed St. Michael’s Monastery when the sound of a rocket could be heard roaring overhead.

He stopped his report mid-sentence to glance behind him, before an explosion could be heard ringing out in the distance – forcing him to duck down, out of shot of the camera looking over the city.

The footage cut back to the studio, where a concerned-looking news presenter Sally Bundock told viewers that Mr Bachega was ‘for obvious reasons, taking cover at that point’.

At least 83 rockets were fired as part of the salvo, Ukraine’s military said, with half shot down but half slamming into cities across the country. At least 11 people were killed and 60 wounded, Ukraine said, with eight of those deaths and 42 injuries in Kyiv alone. Rockets also hit the German consulate, but the building was empty.

A mixture of missiles and Iranian-made suicide drones were used to strike the cities of Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine, northern Kharkiv and Sumy, central Zhytomyr and Vinnytsia, and even far-western Ternopil and Lviv, President Volodymyr Zelensky said. Some of these cities have not been hit in months.

Putin said he ordered strikes on ‘military, communications, and energy infrastructure’ after what he called ‘terrorist’ attacks by Ukraine – pointing to the Kerch Bridge attack but also accusing Kyiv of bombing one of its own nuclear plants, attacking gas pipes and assassinating officials and journalists. 

Putin said: ‘Kyiv’s regime, with its actions, places itself in line with international terrorist organisations. Leaving such crimes without response is impossible. In case of continuing attacks we will respond in [a] harsh manner and in line with [the] level of threats to [the] Russian Federation. Nobody should have any doubt about this.’

Dmitry Medvedev, a staunch ally of Putin, called today’s attacks the ‘first episode’. Dictator Alexander Lukashenko then announced Russian troops will deploy with his forces in Belarus, accusing Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland of ‘preparing attacks’ against him. Belarus has acted as a staging post for Russia’s invasion, but has not yet joined in.

Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the bridge attack and blames Russia for strikes on nuclear infrastructure and gas pipes. Zelensky said today’s missile attacks had targeted power networks, water supplies, and civilians in an attempt to ‘sow terror’. ‘Russia is trying to destroy us and wipe us off the face of the earth,’ he added.

Oleksii Reznikov, the defence minister, said Ukraine’s courage would never be broken and ‘that the only thing they demolish is the future of [Russia] – a future of a globally despised rogue terrorist state.’

Videos and pictures from the Ukrainian capital showed burning cars and bodies in the streets as officials said rockets hit close to a well-known memorial to a famous statesman, near a children’s play area in a park, and a pedestrian bridge. More footage showed an apartment block in Dnipro in flames.

Putin spoke at a meeting with his security cabinet today to plot further revenge. As the talks got underway, Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko announced that a ‘joint military task force’ with Russian troops would be deployed on his western border. Lukashenko has so far not committed any forces to the war.

Meanwhile hardliners within Russia demanded a declaration of full war and the use of nuclear weapons. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had ruled out the atomic option on Sunday, but that will do little to dampen fears as Putin runs out of options having already annexed occupied territory and conscripted hundreds of thousands of troops.

Ukrainian social media networks were flooded with videos of defiance in the wake of the attacks, as people in bomb shelters and in the Kyiv subway network sung the national anthem and other patriotic songs even as bombs fell.

Summing up the mood, Ukraine’s defence ministry tweeted: ‘So, russkies, you really think you can compensate for your impotence on the battlefield with missile strikes on peaceful cities?

‘You just don’t get it do you – your terrorist strikes only make us stronger. We are coming after you.’ 

Widespread power outages were reported after the Russian salvo, with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal saying 11 ‘key infrastructure facilities’ were hit without giving further details. Some cities were also reported to have water shortages.

The Kremlin was humiliated two days ago when a blast damaged Europe’s longest bridge, which it had built after it seized and annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014. Ukraine, which views the bridge as a military target sustaining Russia’s war effort, celebrated the blast without officially claiming responsibility.

With troops suffering weeks of setbacks on the battlefield, Russian authorities have been facing the first sustained public criticism at home of the war, with commentators on state television demanding ever tougher measures.

Ben Hodges, a former commander of U.S. army forces in Europe, said the scale of the strikes suggested Russia’s plan to escalate may have been drawn up before the bridge was attacked.

Monday’s strikes tore a huge crater next to a children’s playground in one of central Kyiv’s busiest parks. The remains of an apparent missile were buried, smoking in the mud.

More volleys of missiles struck the capital again later in the morning. Pedestrians huddled for shelter at the entrance of Metro stations and inside parking garages.

Germany said a building housing its consulate in Kyiv had been hit in Monday’s strike, though it had not been used since the war started on Feb. 24. The European Union condemned Monday’s ‘barbaric and cowardly attacks’ on Ukraine, among a chorus of denunciations from Western countries.

By mid-morning, Ukraine’s defence ministry said Russia had fired 81 cruise missiles, and Ukraine’s air defences had shot down 43 of them. Russia’s defence ministry said it had hit all its intended targets.

Security camera footage showed shrapnel and flames engulfing a glass-bottomed footbridge across a wooded valley in the city centre, one of Kyiv’s most popular tourist sites. One pedestrian could be seen running from the blast. Reuters later saw a huge crater below the bridge, damaged but still standing.

China leads calls for ‘de-escalation’ in wake of attacks as Poland denounces ‘war crime’

China has led calls for de-escalation following a huge Russian bombardment of Ukrainian cities today as Putin loses his grip on the war.

Mao Ning, spokesman for the foreign ministry, said Beijing ‘hopes the situation will de-escalate soon’. Though he refused to directly condemn Russia, his statement will be read as a rare rebuke from a country seen as one of Moscow strongest allies.

India, another country with close ties to Russia, said it was ‘deeply concerned’ and urged a ‘return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue’. 

Meanwhile Poland’s foreign minister Zbigniew Rau issued a stronger statement, condemning what he described as ‘an act of barbarism and a war crime.’

‘We stand behind you Ukraine,’ Mr Rau tweeted.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly condemned ‘unacceptable’ Russian strikes, calling it ‘a demonstration of weakness by Putin, not strength.’

Meanwhile President Zelensky said he had agreed with Germany’s Chancellor Scholz to address a G7 meeting today to update them on what he called ‘terrorist attacks’ by Russia.

The European Commission condemned as ‘barbaric’ Russian missile strikes on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities on Monday and warned Belarus against helping its ally kill civilians.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Russia’s acts had ‘no place in the 21st century’, adding in a tweet that military support for Ukraine was on its way.

‘They are barbaric and cowardly attacks… targeting innocent civilians on their way to work and school in the morning traffic,’ Peter Stano, a spokesperson for the European Union’s executive arm told the Commission’s daily news briefing.

He described the strikes as a contravention of international humanitarian law and said Russia’s political and military leadership would be held accountable for these and other war crimes.

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary general, said he’d spoken to Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba to condemn the ‘horrific and indiscriminate attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine’. 

Zelenskiy filmed a video message on a mobile phone on an empty central Kyiv street. He said the strikes had two main targets: energy infrastructure and people.

‘Such a time and such targets were specially chosen to cause as much damage as possible,’ he said.

Prime Minister Denys Shmygal promised to restore utilities as quickly as possible. Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted: ‘Putin is a terrorist who talks with missiles.’

Olena Somyk, 41, sheltered with her 6-year-old daughter, Daria, in an underground garage where hundreds of other people waited for the all-clear. She had reached Kyiv earlier in the war after fleeing through Russia and across Europe from the Russian-occupied southern city of Kherson.

‘Really, I think they did this because they are bastards,’ said Somyk. Putin, she said, ‘is a small angry man, so we don’t know what more to expect’.

In another sign of possible escalation, Putin’s closest ally, President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, said on Monday he had ordered troops to deploy jointly with Russian forces near Ukraine, which he accused of planning attacks on Belarus with its Western backers.

‘Their owners are pushing them to start a war against Belarus to drag us there,’ he said, citing no evidence. Lukashenko allowed Belarus to be used as a staging ground for Russia early in the war but has not sent his troops to fight.

Within Russia, the strikes were cheered by hawks. Ramzan Kadyrov, the staunchly pro-Kremlin leader of Russia’s Chechnya region who had demanded in recent days that military commanders be sacked, hailed Monday’s attacks: ‘Now I am 100% satisfied with how the special military operation is being conducted.’

‘We warned you Zelensky, that Russia hasn’t even got started yet, so stop complaining … and run! Run away without looking back to the West,’ he wrote.

Russia has faced major setbacks on the battlefield since the start of September, with Ukrainian forces bursting through front lines and recapturing territory. Putin responded to the losses by ordering a mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of reservists, proclaiming the annexation of occupied territory and threatening repeatedly to use nuclear weapons.

Russian officials had predicted retaliation of the highest order after the bridge attack. Alexander Baskin, a Russian senator, confidently suggested that the Kremlin’s response would be ‘adequate, conscious and possibly asymmetric’, the Mirror reported. 

He added: ‘This was a declaration of war without rules.’

A red-faced Putin yesterday blamed Ukrainian special forces for the explosion which severely damaged the key link to the Russian mainland. 

The livid president said the blast at Kerch Bridge was designed to destroy ‘critically important civilian infrastructure’. He declared that the attack was a terrorist incident.

Speaking before today’s Russian attacks, Lord Dannatt, former head of the British Army, said Putin could order the indiscriminate shelling of Ukrainian cities and could even ‘go nuclear’. 

A wounded man walks past as emergency service personnel attend to the site of a blast in the city of Kyiv on Monday

A view of the scene after several explosions rocked the Shevchenkivskyi district of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv

A Russian warship fires missiles from the Black Sea towards Ukraine amid a massive strike across the country this morning

A missile crater is visible in the middle of a park next to a children’s play area after Russia bombarded the Ukrainian capital this morning, amid reports of further attacks on other major cities

Locals inspect the damage caused to a park by a Russian missile while struck the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv early Monday, in apparent revenge for a blast that crippled the Kerch Bridge at the weekend

Ukrainian experts inspect a destroyed car after shelling in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine

Rescue workers survey the scene of a Russian attack on Kyiv, with the Ukrainian capital targeted for the first time in months

A member of the Ukrainian military helps with search and rescue operations after Russian missile strikes on Kyiv today

Investigators inspect the site of a Russian missile blast in Kyiv after the Ukrainian capital was hit by multiple rockets

The strikes came hours after Putin directly blamed Ukraine for the attack on the Kerch bridge, saying it had been carried out by the secret service while describing it as a ‘terrorist act’

Emergency service personnel attend to a the site of a blast on October 10, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine

ZAPORIZHZHIA: A residential building destroyed as a result of a Russian missile strike in southeastern Ukraine

ZAPORIZHZHIA: Cars destroyed as a result of a Russian missile strike in southeastern Ukraine

LVIV: A smoke rises over the city after Russian missile strikes, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine

Police officers stand near a children’s playground after shelling in downtown Kyiv, Ukraine

Fears were raised today that Belarus could join the conflict in Ukraine after President Alexander Lukashenko announced he will deploy a ‘joint military task force’ with Russia on the embattled country’s western border.

The dictator said this was in response to what he said was a clear threat to Belarus from Kyiv and its backers in the West, claiming without evidence that plans were being drawn up in Ukraine to attack his country.

Lukashenko’s announcement sparked fury in Europe, with the European Commission urging Belarus to refrain from any involvement in Russia’s ‘brutal illegitimate undertaking’ that violated the United Nations Charter and international law.

Specifically, it told Minsk immediately to stop allowing the territory of Belarus to serve as a launch pad for very recent missile strikes and drone attacks against Ukrainian civilians.

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

‘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.’

‘We have been preparing for this for decades. If necessary, we will respond,’ Lukashenko said, adding that he had spoken to Putin about the situation while at a meeting in St Petersburg.

 

However, the Kremlin has played down fears from Western observers that it could use nuclear weapons, saying it is ‘completely incorrect’ that it was considering using them in response.

Russian governors predicted today’s revenge missile attacks after the destruction of the bridge on Saturday morning, which was considered to be one of Putin’s pet projects.

The bridge has been a symbol of Russian power in Crimea since its annexation of the peninsula in 2014.

The bridge, which spans 19km from Crimea to the Russian mainland, has been used as one of the main supply routes for Russian troops since the illegal invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, allowing Putin to resupply and back up forces occupying Kherson and other southern regions of Ukraine.

Its destruction in a huge blast in the early hours of Saturday morning was a huge blow to the Russian war effort and was a slap in the face for the Russian president.

In a video released on the Kremlin’s Telegram channel yesterday, Putin blamed Ukrainian special forces while meeting with Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, who was presenting findings of an inquiry into the explosion and fire on the bridge.

The Russian president said: ‘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.’

Mr Bastrykin said he had opened a criminal case into an act of terrorism and added that while Ukrainian soldiers had taken part, citizens of Russia and other countries were also involved.

He said investigations ‘have already established the route of the truck’ that Russian authorities said set off a bomb and explosion on the bridge.

Mr Bastrykin said the truck had been to Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, North Ossetia, Krasnodar (a region in southern Russia) and other places.

Today Putin will chair the meeting with his Security Council (SCRF) as he looks to formulate a response to the latest setback in his ill-judged war.

The former head of the British Army, General Lord Richard Dannatt, warned that Putin could now opt for the Armageddon approach after the Kremlin previously insisted that an attack on Crimea would ‘cross a red line’.

However, the country has once again denied this will happen, saying suggestions it could use nuclear weapons after designating the attack an act of terrorism ‘completely incorrect’. 

The 12 mile long bridge over the Kerch strait links Crimea to the Russian mainland and is a major artery for Putin’s forces that control most of southern Ukraine’s Kherson region and for the Russian naval port of Sevastopol.

It was damaged in an explosion early Saturday morning which saw chunks of the bridge fall into the sea and a large fire break out. 

The incident prompted gleeful messages from Ukrainian officials – though no claim of responsibility – and video footage of the bridge appeared to show a mysterious wave crest underneath the structure moments before the blast, prompting speculation that a Ukrainian-piloted boat or drone was likely behind it.

Russia meanwhile claimed a truck bomb had exploded, and has not apportioned blame for the damage. 

The meeting of the security council today comes as top Putin propagandists and Russian regional governors called for total war in Ukraine in response to the bridge explosion.

The Kerch Bridge is the only direct link between Russia and Crimea and is a crucial supply line for Russian forces in Ukraine

A view shows a fire on the Kerch bridge in the Kerch Strait, Crimea, October 8, 2022, in this screen grab from a handout video

Fire tears through the Kerch bridge in the Kerch Strait, Crimea, after an explosion inthe early hours of Saturday, October 8, 2022

The livid Russian president, who is leading a Security Council meeting today, said the blast at the Kerch bridge (pictured) was designed to destroy ‘critically important civilian infrastructure

Russian propaganda had claimed the Crimean bridge was impossible to attack because of 20 different kinds of security protecting it, including military dolphins 

Victims of Crimea bridge blast pictured 

Two people killed in an explosion which partially destroyed the bridge connecting occupied Crimea to Russia have been identified.

Eduard Chuchakin, 53, and his wife Zoya Sofronova, 33, well known tourist guides and documentary-makers in St Petersburg, died in the bridge blast.

They had been travelling in their Cadillac car en route to film in Crimea.

Their vehicle plunged into the waters of the Kerch Strait when several sections of the bridge collapsed.

The car was close to a truck which was reported to have contained a huge quantity of explosives.

The pair were history graduates of Putin’s alma mater St Petersburg State University.

He was a specialist in the tsarist architecture of St Petersburg and she had been a journalist.

They led tourist expeditions in the city on notorious monk Grigori Rasputin.

‘Zoya and Eduard were traveling with their Moscow friend to shoot a sequel to a documentary about the Romanov [Russian royal] family,’ stated a report.

They were to film at former tsars’ summer retreat Livadia Palace.

The driver of the truck Makhir Yusubov, 52, was also believed to have been killed in the blast.

Leading Kremlin propagandist Vladimir Solovyov demanded a brutal Stalinist response to ‘plunge Ukraine into dark times’ and round up all Russians against total war in the wake of the humiliating hit on the bridge.

Alluding to an enemy within, Solovyov called for a return of the notorious Stalin-era SMERSH counter-intelligence to crush all internal opposition to a full-scale war against Ukraine.

SMERSH, whose motto was ‘Death to Spies’, was a conglomeration of counterintelligence agencies used by Stalin to root out and obliterate those trying to subvert his regime during and after World War II.  

Crimea’s Russian-installed governor Sergei Aksyonov declared there is a ‘healthy desire to seek revenge’ following the explosion which destroyed parts of the Kerch bridge yesterday morning and killed three people.

Rocket attacks have already rained down on the southern Ukrainian region of Zaporizhzhia since the bridge explosion, killing 17 people late last night and early this morning. 

Shocking footage circulated on social media by Ukrainian officials showed rescue workers pulling an elderly woman from the debris this morning after the attack reduced one high-rise residential building to rubble and damaged neighbouring structures.

An earlier clip saw rescue workers and forlorn residents picking their way over the mounds of twisted metal and smashed bricks as they searched for survivors and attempted to salvage what little remained from the devastation.

City council secretary Anatoly Kurtev said at least 20 private homes and 50 apartment buildings were damaged in the blasts, in addition to the high-rise that was flattened.

Russia in recent weeks has repeatedly struck Zaporizhzhia, which is in the Ukrainian controlled-part of a region that Putin annexed in violation of international law last week.

On Thursday, at least 19 people died in Russian missile strikes on apartment buildings in the southern city, which lies just 80 miles from Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.  

‘Again, Zaporizhzhia. Again, merciless attacks on civilians, targeting residential buildings, in the middle of the night,’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote in a Telegram post.

‘Absolute meanness. Absolute evil. … From the one who gave this order, to everyone who carried out this order: they will answer. They must. Before the law and the people,’ he added.

While Russia targeted Zaporizhzhia several times prior to Saturday’s explosion on the Crimea bridge, last night’s missile attack will likely be seen as a retributive action as it came just hours after the damage was dealt to the symbol of Russian power in the annexed peninsula.

‘You Russkies don’t get it. Your terrorist strikes just make us stronger. We’re coming after you’: Ukraine’s defiant message following nationwide missile strikes 

Ukrainians sent a defiant message to Vladimir Putin today after Russia hit the country with nationwide missile strikes.

Social media networks were flooded with videos of resistance in the wake of the attacks, as people in bomb shelters and in the Kyiv subway network sung the national anthem and other patriotic anthems – even as bombs fell.

The footage came as Putin’s military blitzed Ukraine with missile strikes this morning, hitting the capital Kyiv and several other cities and killing civilians as revenge for an explosion which crippled the Crimea Bridge on Saturday.

At least eight people were killed and 24 were injured in just one of the Kyiv strikes.

Summing up the mood in Ukraine, the country’s defence ministry tweeted: ‘So, russkies, you really think you can compensate for your impotence on the battlefield with missile strikes on peaceful cities? You just don’t get it do you – your terrorist strikes only make us stronger. We are coming after you.’

Inna Sovsun, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, shared a video on Monday morning from a Metro station in Kyiv showing a crowd of people sitting on the steps.

Posting the video to her Twitter account, she wrote: ‘Metro station in Kyiv where I am with my son now. Very crowded, lots of kids. People are calm, no panic.’

As the camera panned around, the video showed the crowd of people taking shelter stretched all the way down a long tunnel. The same crowd were later shown in a second clip singing together.

Footage from another shelter showed children gathered around tables covered in school work, also singing the Ukrainian national anthem.

The anthem is known by its name ‘The glory and freedom of Ukraine has not yet perished’, or by its shortened name: ‘Ukraine has not yet perished’.

From the video, it appeared a make-shift classroom had been set up in the shelter to allow the children to keep learning while being safe from Putin’s missiles.

In yet another clip from a Metro station, a huge crowd stretching all the way down a tunnel can be seen taking shelter. As with the first station and the children, the crowd is heard singing beautifully in the clip – in defiance of Putin’s attacks.

Social media networks were flooded with videos of resistance in the wake of the attacks, as people in bomb shelters and in the Kyiv subway network sung the national anthem and other patriotic anthems. Pictured: People sing together in a Kyiv Metro station on Monday

Putin’s ‘miracle’ bridge in flames: As a huge explosion blows apart vital link between Russia and seized region of Crimea, Ukraine celebrates… by issuing commemorative postage stamps, writes IAN BIRRELL in dispatch from Dnipro

By Ian Birrell for The Mail On Sunday 

It is a picture that shows the stunning devastation caused to the only rail and road link between Russia and Crimea, after a huge blast left a fuel train in flames and caused the collapse of spans of the roadway below.

The massive fireball exploded on the 12-mile Kerch Bridge shortly after 6am yesterday, striking a hugely-symbolic blow against Vladimir Putin while prompting jubilation in Ukraine.

The Russian president ordered the bridge to be built in 2014 after his illegal annexation of Crimea – the first step in his assault on Ukrainian terrain. He declared it was a ‘miracle’ after driving a truck across to open the structure four years ago.

Now the bold attack demonstrates his inability to protect any part of the land he grabbed from Ukraine – and raises the stakes in this war as fears grow that the beleaguered Kremlin might respond to setbacks with a nuclear attack.

It is a picture that shows the stunning devastation caused to the only rail and road link between Russia and Crimea, after a huge blast left a fuel train in flames and caused the collapse of spans of the roadway below

The massive fireball exploded on the 12-mile Kerch Bridge shortly after 6am yesterday, striking a hugely-symbolic blow against Vladimir Putin while prompting jubilation in Ukraine

Russian media had boasted that the heavily defended bridge was impregnable. The rail line is a critical supply route for their military operations in Kherson region – although Moscow claimed last night that limited road and rail traffic would resume.

Yet the strike was another crushing humiliation for Putin. He demanded the building of the £2.7billion bridge, the longest in Europe, and saw it as his pet project.

Several Ukrainian media quoted sources claiming the attack on the loathed symbol of Russia’s occupation of their land was carried out by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). Russia blamed a lorry bomb and the footage showed a freight truck on the bridge before the blast.

A spokesman for the SBU declined to comment. But the organisation tweeted four lines paraphrasing a poem by Taras Shevchenko, the nation’s most famous writer:

‘It’s dawn/ The bridge burns beautifully/ Nightingale in the Crimea/ Greet SBU.’

Ukraine’s post office immediately issued a stamp to mark the bridge’s destruction while the nation’s second-largest bank offered a new debit card design featuring the collapsed bridge. Delighted Ukrainians noted the attack came the day after Putin’s 70th birthday – including Oleksii Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security council.

He shared a video of the damaged bridge on social media next to Marilyn Monroe’s famous rendition of ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ to John F. Kennedy in 1962.

Even pro-government newspapers in Russia have previously admitted that Ukraine hitting the bridge would be ‘a serious blow to Russia’ – although they ruled out the possibility of any attack succeeding. The structure was protected by air defence, sophisticated sonar systems to detect underwater saboteurs and a special naval brigade of the national guard with machine guns and missile-launchers.

Yet according to Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee, a lorry was blown up on the road and then the fuel cisterns of a freight train caught fire on a parallel rail bridge. Three people in a car died in the explosion, their corpses found in the water.

Cars are pictured below the damaged bridge connecting Crimea to Russia tonight, hours after a massive explosion

The rail bridge from Russia to the Crimean peninsula can be seen engulfed in flames on the right, while a huge section of the road bridge has collapsed into the sea 

Russian sources said firefighters struggled to put out the blaze due to strong winds and leaking fuel, resulting in damage to an estimated 1.3 kilometres of railway track. Putin has set up a government body to investigate the explosion and to oversee repairs while Sergei Aksyonov, his stooge head of Crimea, urged residents not to panic.

He insisted the peninsula has adequate stocks of food and fuel amid signs of panic-buying. Moscow’s transport ministry said in a statement their ‘experts’ expected rail crossings to resume quickly following ‘a primary assessment of the state of the infrastructure of the railway part of the Crimean bridge’.

The rail line is a vital supply route for the Kremlin’s operations in Kherson region, where they have been pushed back at least 12 miles this month. It became even more crucial following the loss of rail hubs in eastern Ukraine last month.

‘If the Kerch bridge railway lines are put out of commission for a significant period, it could be game over for Russian forces in Kherson,’ said Phillips O’Brien, an expert on military logistics and professor of strategic studies at St Andrews University.

Moscow’s armed forces have been pushed back on battlefronts in the north-east and south with heavy losses forcing Putin into mass mobilisation, sparking an exodus of potential recruits and mounting domestic criticism from hardline Kremlin allies.

Ukraine’s President Zelensky said on Friday that his forces last week recaptured a further 800 square kilometres in the east, which follows last month’s dramatic breakthrough in Kharkiv region.

The Ukrainian president does not hide his determination to drive Moscow’s forces off all of their land, stating recently that ‘This Russian war… began with Crimea and must end with Crimea – with its liberation.’

Source: Read Full Article