Ukraine said Russia had destroyed homes in the south and knocked out power in the north in a new round of missile attacks on Monday as the West tried to limit Moscow’s ability to finance its invasion by imposing a price cap on Russian seaborne oil.
Air alerts sounded across Ukraine and officials urged civilians to take shelter from what they said looked like a large wave of strikes, the latest in relentless rounds of air attacks by Russia since its Feb. 24 invasion.
It followed reported incidents at two air bases inside Russia overnight, both hundreds of miles from Ukraine.
Three people were killed when a fuel tanker exploded at the air base in Ryazan, 185 km (115 miles) southeast of Moscow, state news agency RIA said.
Roman Busargin, regional governor of Saratov, further to the southeast, acknowledged separate reports of a blast at a base housing bomber planes that are part of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces.
Busargin reassured residents they were safe after what he called reports on social media of a “loud bang and a flash” at the Engels air base. “Information about incidents at military facilities is being checked by law enforcement agencies,” he said, without elaborating.
The Engels base, about 730 km (455 miles) south of Moscow, is one of two strategic bomber bases housing Russia’s air-delivered nuclear capability, comprising 60-70 planes.
Ukraine did not claim responsibility for either incident, or for earlier mysterious explosions. Weapons stores and fuel depots have been hit in Russian regions close to the border with Ukraine and at least seven warplanes destroyed in Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014. Kyiv has said such incidents are “karma” for Russia’s invasion.
“If something is launched into other countries’ airspace, sooner or later unknown flying objects will return to (their) departure point,” Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter on Monday.
The Russian attacks later on Monday killed two people in the Zaporizhzhia region where several houses were destroyed, the deputy head of the presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said in one of the first reports of the damage.
Buildings had been hit in the suburbs of the city of Zaporizhzhia and some Russian missiles had been shot down, a city official said.
The governor of the Kyiv capital region said its air defences were working there, and told residents to remain in shelters. An energy provider said power had been knocked out in the northern region of Sumy by the latest missile strikes.
Russian forces have increasingly targeted Ukrainian energy facilities in recent weeks as they have been forced to retreat on some battlefronts, causing major power outages as winter sets in.
“Don’t ignore the alarm,” said Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian presidential staff.
Ukraine had only just returned to scheduled power outages from Monday rather than the emergency blackouts it has suffered since widespread Russian strikes on Nov. 23, the worst of the attacks on energy infrastructure that began in early October.
Russia has said the attacks are designed to degrade Ukraine’s military. Ukraine says they are clearly aimed at civilians and thus constitute a war crime.
A $60 per barrel price cap on Russian seaborne crude oil came into force on Monday, the latest Western measure to punish Moscow over its invasion. Russia is the world’s second-largest oil exporter.
The agreement allows Russian oil to be shipped to third-party countries using tankers from G7 and EU countries, insurance companies and credit institutions, only if the cargo is bought at or below the $60 per barrel cap.
Moscow has said it will not abide by the measure even if it has to cut production. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said $60 was not low enough to stop Russia’s assault.
A Russian oil blend was selling for around $79 a barrel in Asian markets on Monday – almost a third higher than the price cap, according to Refinitiv data and estimates from industry sources.
Both sides on the ground in Ukraine reported casualties from other attacks overnight, on an industrial enterprise and another location in southern Ukraine, and on state-run accommodation in Russian-held territory in the east.
Three dormitories of the Donbas State Institute in the eastern Luhansk region were hit early on Monday by Ukrainian fire, killing nine people, the region’s Russian-installed governor and Russia’s state-run news agency TASS said.
Pro-Russian Governor Leonid Pasechnik said the dormitories were being used to house refugees and construction workers.
In Kryvyi Rih, among the largest cities in southern Ukraine, Russian rockets killed one person and wounded three just after midnight, the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region, Valentyn Reznichenko, said.
“They aimed at an industrial enterprise,” Reznichenko said on the Telegram messaging app without giving details.
“It was a tragic night,” he said, while Oleksandr Vilkul, head of the Kryvyi Rih Military Administration, said: “The destruction is very significant.”
In the southern Kherson region, where Ukraine forced Russian forces to withdraw across the Dnipro River last month, governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said further Russian shelling had killed two people in the past 24 hours.