“We will continue to provide unwavering economic, humanitarian, and security assistance so Ukraine can defend itself and take care of its people,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Twitter. Blinken tweeted on Monday morning that he spoke with his counterpart, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, following the strikes.
The attacks, which marked the first on Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, since late June, drew condemnation from Western officials. Russia launched 75 rockets, and 41 rockets were shot down by Ukraine’s defenses, the country’s top general, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, wrote on Facebook.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) compared Putin’s actions to Adolf Hitler’s rapid offensive attacks on Britain in World War II.
“Hitler’s blitzkrieg on the innocent Brits strengthened their resolve,” Durbin wrote on Twitter. “Putin’s mass strike on innocent Ukrainians will do the same. The hottest ring in Hell has Putin’s name on the door.”
Bridget Brink, the American ambassador to Ukraine, tweeted photos of her meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday, with the caption “Undaunted.”
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said on Monday that the attacks were “horrific” and “very, very concerning.”
“But I think it’s an extension of the kind of tactics that we’ve seen from the beginning of the invasion,” Wormuth told reporters at the Association of the United States Army’s annual meeting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the attacks came in response to the partial destruction over the weekend of a bridge linking illegally occupied Crimea and Russia. Putin has described the blast at the Kerch Bridge, which Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for, as an act of terrorism. But the bridge was logistically significant to Russia’s military operation, making it a valid military target, Mulroy said.
“These indiscriminate airstrikes demonstrate Putin’s desperation and brutality in the face of an increasingly successful Ukrainian counter offensive,” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) tweeted on Monday.
Ukraine has asked Western countries for new air defenses to ward off missile attacks on civilian infrastructure — the kind of attacks the country saw on Monday. It is expected to receive two additional surface-to-air systems that can knock down drones, missiles and helicopters in the coming weeks, according to Defense Department officials; however, the Biden administration did not include any new air defense capabilities in the $625 million of military aid announced last week.
Mike Pompeo, secretary of State in the Trump administration, criticized Biden on Monday for the adminstration’s weapons strategy.
“They’ve been dribbling out these weapons — too slow, not enough range,” Pompeo said on “Fox and Friends.” “We should be providing Ukrainians every tool they need.”
The United States has provided approximately $15.8 billion in aid to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden administration, Blinken said in a statement on Sept. 15.
The attacks over the weekend amount to “red meat” for Putin’s base, Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass said on Monday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Because of Russia’s struggles on the battlefield, Putin is adopting an indirect strategy of applying pressure to Ukrainian society and attempting to weaken Western support, Haass said.
“We all gotta psychologically and politically prepare ourselves for a long struggle,” he said.
When Biden addressed Russia’s war in Ukraine last week, he raised the possibility of nuclear “Armageddon” from Russia. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that Biden’s comment reflected the stakes of the war, rather than any new intelligence.
Lara Seligman, Lee Hudson and Paul McLeary contributed to this report.