Russia launched a series of attacks in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia overnight, killing at least 17 people and wounding 12 others in apparent retaliation for an explosion that damaged a Crimean bridge, authorities said on Sunday.
The impact of the helicopters caused a high-rise apartment building to partially collapse and shattered windows in nearby buildings. The attack came hours after an explosion on Saturday caused the collapse of part of a bridge linking the Crimean Peninsula with Russia, damaging a vital nerve of the Kremlin’s military operations.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, in response to the Russian aggression, said that Ukraine “needs a modern air and missile defense system” to protect its cities.
“Russia continues its terror against civilians in Zaporizhzhia,” Kuleba said. “I urge the partners to speed up the deployment.”
City council secretary Anatoliy Kurtev said the rockets damaged about 20 houses and several apartment buildings in Zaporizhzhia, a region President Vladimir Putin claimed for Russia.
Russian authorities had warned of retaliation after the attack on the 12-mile, $3.6 billion Kerch Bridge, a symbol of Moscow’s claim to Crimea. Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and it has become a popular destination for Russian tourists.
►Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an agreement to strengthen the security of the Crimean bridge and the power line between Crimea and Russia. He put the Russian Federation Security Service, FSB, in charge of the operation.
►Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that Air Force Gen. Sergei Surovikin would command all Russian forces in Ukraine. Surovikin, who was in charge of the army in southern Ukraine, had led the Russian army in Syria and was accused of overseeing the bombing that destroyed a large part of Aleppo.
A NUCLEAR GEDON? Biden talks about the worst crisis since 1962
President Joe Biden warned last week that the nuclear threat “Armageddon” is at the highest level since 1962 was “relevant” but not successful in ending the war in Ukraine, let Adm. Mike Mullen said Sunday. Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and senior military adviser to President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, said. ABC’s “This Week” that Biden’s warning was “above the level of language.”
“I think we need to put that aside a little bit and do everything we can to try to get to the table to get this thing right,” Mullen said. “It has to end and there are usually discussions about that.”
Nebraska Republican Rep. Don Bacon, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Putin is “a corner animal … unpredictable, unstable.” But he also said Biden should be “careful” with his speech.
Ukrainian forces have liberated more than 50 towns and about 500 miles in the occupied Kherson region and are closing in on the Russian-held city, Deputy Interior Minister Yevhen Enin said on Sunday. The region is one of four Russians said to have annexed after fake referendums held by gunmen that the Kremlin said won broad support for joining Russia.
“Little by little, step by step, Kherson region, our countries are free of invaders,” said Enin. Ukrainian officials say they are also entering three other regions occupied by Russia, including Luhansk and Dontesk regions that make up the industrial Donbas. The Donbas has been the main focus of the Russian army since returning from the Kyiv area in the first days of the war.
Slovakia’s defense minister, Jaro Nad, said on Sunday that Bratislava had brought two self-propelled, Zuzana 2 howitzers to support Ukraine’s efforts to repel Russian attacks. Neighbor Ukraine has been one of Kyiv’s staunchest supporters, with past donations including the Soviet-era S-300 air defense system, military helicopters and thousands of multiple rocket launchers.
Nad said the latest offer was a gift from Putin, who turned 70 on Friday.
“To mark his 70th birthday, we sent another gift to aggressor Putin. Two new #Zuzana2 howitzers are now in (and many more to come),” Nad tweeted.
Distribution: The Associated Press