Russia intensified its attacks on multiple Ukrainian cities Monday, targeting critical infrastructure and knocking out power and water supplies in Kyiv and other regions. The attacks came a day after Russia alleged that Ukraine attacked its Black Sea fleet.
Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed Monday that the attacks on Ukraine were in response to Kyiv allegedly carrying out drone attacks.
In response to a journalist who asked if the bombardment was an answer to the recent events on the Black Sea, Putin said, "Partly, yes. But it's not all we could have done."
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said attacks in the capital cut off power and water supplies in parts of the city, leaving more than 80% of its residents without running water.
In a tweet, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemned the attacks.
Ukraine's army posted on Telegram that the barrage included "more than 50" cruise missiles in several waves of attacks.
"Another batch of Russian missiles hits Ukraine's critical infrastructure. Instead of fighting on the battlefield, Russia fights civilians. Don't justify these attacks by calling them a 'response.' Russia does this because it still has the missiles and the will to kill Ukrainians."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Monday that Ukraine had shot down 45 missiles that were launched by Russia.
Ukraine has not confirmed or denied attacking the Russian fleet, which Russia cited Saturday as its reason for suspending its participation in a U.N.-led grain initiative.
A senior U.S. military official said the United States is tracking the report of an alleged attack against Russian navy vessels in Sevastopol and said, "We do assess that there were explosions there."
Putin said Monday that Ukraine fired drones at Russia's fleet through a zone that was meant to ensure the safety of ships carrying grain.
U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths told the U.N. Security Council Monday that no ships involved with the U.N. grain deal were in the corridor when the alleged attack took place.
Meanwhile, in an effort to avert world hunger, 12 grain ships sailed from Ukrainian ports, despite Moscow's pullout from the initiative. They transported 354,500 tons of grain, the most in a day since the program began, suggesting a backlog was being cleared after exports were interrupted Sunday.
However, the transport was again thrown into doubt when Russia's Defense Ministry said late Monday that it was "unacceptable" for shipping to pass through the Black Sea security corridor.
Lloyd's of London insurer Ascot has paused insurance for new shipments going through the Ukrainian Black Sea corridor.
"From today, we are pausing on quoting new shipments until we better understand the situation," Ascot head of cargo Chris McGill said. "Insurance that has already been issued still stands."
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Russia's stopping its participation in the grain initiative is having "immediate, harmful impacts" on global food security.
Ukraine, Turkey and the United Nations worked to keep grain shipments moving through the Black Sea Monday.
The U.N. said there was a joint agreement on a plan for 16 vessels to move through the maritime humanitarian corridor, including 12 heading from Ukrainian ports toward an inspection area off Istanbul.
A Sunday statement also said Turkey and the U.N. would provide inspection teams with a goal of inspecting 40 vessels that have left Ukraine.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday his government is determined to continue the grain export program, despite Russia's hesitancy.
More than 9.5 million metric tons of grain and other foodstuffs have left Ukrainian ports since the beginning of August under the agreement struck with Ukraine and Russia to resume the shipments amid a global food crisis.
Wheat markets have been volatile due to developments in Moscow's eight-month-old invasion of Ukraine, as both countries are among the world's largest wheat exporters.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called on Russia to return to the agreement to allow "food to reach the world."
"Russia's decision to suspend participation in the Black Sea deal puts at risk the main export route of much needed grain and fertilizers to address the global food crisis caused by its war against Ukraine," Borrell tweeted Sunday. "The EU urges Russia to revert its decision."
Speaking to reporters in Delaware Sunday, U.S. President Joe Biden called Russia's decision to suspend participation from the Ukrainian grain deal "purely outrageous" and said it would increase starvation.
"There's no merit to what they're doing. The U.N. negotiated that deal, and that should be the end of it," Biden said.
VOA U.N. correspondent Margaret Besheer contributed to this story. Some information came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.