Kyiv, Ukraine (AP) — A massive barrage of Russian strikes hit critical infrastructure in Kiev, Kharkiv and other Ukrainian cities early Monday, knocking out water and electricity in apparent retaliation for what Moscow said Ukraine’s attack on its Black Sea Fleet last weekend.

Russia has stepped up its attacks on power plants and other key infrastructure in Ukraine as the war enters its ninth month. As a result of Russia’s strategy, a large part of Ukraine is already experiencing blackouts.

The Ministry of Defense of Russia stated that its troops had struck “high-precision long-range air and sea-based weapons against the military command and energy systems of Ukraine.”

“The objectives of the strikes have been achieved. All specified objects are affected,” the ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, 12 ships with grain left Ukrainian ports on Monday, despite Russia’s threat to renew the blockade that threatened famine around the world, Ukraine’s Ministry of Infrastructure said. One ship was transporting Ukrainian wheat to Ethiopia, where millions of people are suffering from severe drought.

Ukraine’s air force said it shot down 44 of more than 50 cruise missiles launched by Russia.

Prime Minister of Ukraine Denis Shmygal said that Russian missiles and drones struck 10 regions of Ukraine and damaged 18 facilities, mainly energy facilities.

Hundreds of settlements in seven regions of Ukraine were left without power, he said on Facebook, adding that “the consequences could have been much worse” if Ukrainian forces had not shot down most of the Russian missiles.

Thirteen people were injured as a result of the morning shelling, the head of the National Police Igor Klimenko said on national television.

Loud explosions rang out in the Ukrainian capital early in the morning, when residents were preparing to go to work. Emergency services sent text messages about the threat of a missile attack, and air raid sirens sounded for three hours during the morning commute.

“The Kremlin is taking revenge for the military failures of peaceful people who were left without electricity and heat before winter,” said the governor of the Kyiv region, Alyaksei Kuleba.

Mayor of Kyiv Vital Klitschko said that 80% of consumers in the city of 3 million were left without water supply due to damage to the power plant.

Local authorities are working to restore the supply as soon as possible, Klitschko said, and in the meantime he advised the people of Kyiv to “stock up on water from nearby pump stations and retail outlets.”

The head of President Uladzimir Zelenskyi’s office, Andrei Yermak, promised that attacks on civilian objects would not weaken Ukraine’s resistance.

“We will stand, and generations of Russians will pay a heavy price for their shame,” Yermak said.

The attacks came just before Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and many senior members of his government, including the foreign, defense and interior ministers, arrived in Kyiv for a final sign of European leaders’ support for Ukraine.

“Ukrainians fight not only for their country, but also for the whole of Europe. Our support must continue,” Fiala tweeted from Kyiv.

In Kyiv, smoke was seen rising from the left bank of the Dnieper either from a missile strike or from the place where it was shot down by Ukrainian forces.

Associated Press reporters saw soldiers inspecting the funnel and debris from where one of the missiles fell on the outskirts of Kiev. According to local residents who saw the rockets, the rockets flew fast and low over the ground and sounded like a bomb exploding.

“It was actually scary,” says 28-year-old Aleksandar Rabtsev, who was on his way to work. – I raised my head – it is flying, I can see this cruise missile, I didn’t even go to work, I went home.”

Prime Minister Shmyhal reported that emergency power outages continue in Kyiv, Zaporozhye, Dnipropetrovs’k and Kharkiv regions. “Today, as in the past weeks, it is important that Ukrainians consume energy carefully and reduce the load on the network,” the official said.

In the eastern city of Kharkiv, two strikes hit critical infrastructure, authorities said, and the metro stopped operating.

Critical infrastructure facilities were also damaged in the Cherkasy region southeast of Kyiv. In the Kirovohrad region of central Ukraine, an energy facility was damaged, according to local authorities. In Vinnytsia, a downed rocket fell on civilian buildings, there were no casualties, the governor of the region, Siarhei Borzov, said.

Some sections of the Ukrainian railway were also shut down, Ukrainian Railways reports.

The attack came two days after Russia accused Ukraine of a drone attack on the Russian Black Sea Fleet off the coast of the annexed Crimean peninsula. Ukraine denies the attack, saying Russia mishandled its own weapons, but Moscow has announced it will end its involvement in the The deal was brokered by the UN and Turkey allow the safe passage of ships carrying grain from Ukraine.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country is determined to push forward with the grain agreement that allowed Ukraine to export more than 9 million tons of grain.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said he would speak by phone with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu later on Monday to make sure the agreement remains in place.

“The termination of the agreement affects all of humanity. We remind stakeholders to reconsider their decisions,” Akar said. “Three people in need were urgently waiting for grain. The situation will only worsen.”

This is the second time this month that Russia has launched a massive barrage of strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure. On October 10, a similar attack rocked the war-torn country after an explosion on the Kerch bridge connecting annexed Crimea with mainland Russia — an incident Moscow blamed on Kyiv.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, said that there are no excuses for Russia launching rockets that aim to cause so much suffering to civilians.

“Don’t justify these attacks by calling them a ‘response.’ Russia is doing this because it still has missiles and the desire to kill Ukrainians,” he tweeted.

One of the Russian missiles shot down by Ukraine fell on the Moldovan border town, causing material damage, but no injuries.

Pictures released by Moldova’s interior ministry showed a thick plume of smoke rising over the northern town of Naslaucha, on the border with Ukraine, as well as broken windows in several houses in the area.

Susan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey; Karel Janicek in Prague; and Sabina Niksic in Sarajevo, Bosnia, contributed to this report.

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