Air raid alerts have been issued across the whole of Ukraine in anticipation of more Russian missiles strikes just a day after Putin unleashed the biggest barrage since the start of the war - killing 19 civilians and wounding 105.
Every Ukrainian region bar occupied Crimea was told to be on alert for more strikes early Tuesday as officials said rockets had been shot down near the capital Kyiv and that suicide drones were prowling the skies near the southern port city of Odesa. Explosions were also reported in western Lviv, with power knocked out in the city.
Ukraine's air force said Russian strategic bombers - Tu-95s and Tu-160s which were originally designed to carry nukes - had fired non-nuclear missiles at the country from over the Caspian Sea around 7am local time, and that four of the weapons had been shot out of the sky.
The city of Zaporizhzhia, located close to the Russian frontlines in the south, continued to be bombed overnight with officials saying 15 missiles hit schools, hospitals and homes, killing at least one person. Vinnytsia, in central Ukraine, was also targeted this morning amid reports that drones struck a power plant.
It came mere hours after Putin's bloodthirsty war hawks appeared on state TV to praise his new no-holds-barred approach to the war while urging him to go further and bomb Ukraine 'into a 19th century country'.
A car dealership in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia in flames in the early hours of Tuesday after it was hit in a Russian missile attack, as Putin's bombardment of Ukraine continues
Firefighters cover the body of a man killed by Russian shelling on the city of Zaporizhzhia overnight with a sheet as Putin's bombardment of Ukraine continues
Firefighters inspect the ruins of a car dealership in Zaporizhzhia that was hit by a Russian missile, after 15 rockets slammed into the city overnight Monday
A truck is seen peppered with shrapnel and buried under rubble after Russian missiles hit the city of Zaporizhzhia overnight
An elderly man walks past a car shop that was destroyed after a Russian attack in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine
A man carries a bucket of water to extinguish the remains of a fire in the remains of a car shop that was destroyed after a Russian attack in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine
An employee cleans the debris at the remains of a car shop that was destroyed after a Russian attack in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine
The office building of a car retailer destroyed during a Russian missile attack in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, overnight
Russia unleashed one of the largest bombardments of Ukraine since the opening day of the war on Monday, as virtually every major city was hit in strikes that killed 19 people and wounded 105
Russia is running short of weapons, allies and troops with Vladimir Putin's regime becoming increasingly desperate, the head of the UK's GCHQ intelligence agency said.
Sir Jeremy Fleming said Moscow still had a 'very capable military machine' despite those shortcomings, although it was being stretched by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
Russian president Mr Putin launched a missile and drone barrage against Ukrainian cities including Kyiv on Monday and air raid sirens again sounded in the capital on Tuesday.
Mr Putin has warned about the potential use of nuclear weapons to defend Russian territory - a definition which he could extend to the occupied regions of Ukraine.
GCHQ chief Sir Jeremy said he hoped the UK would see 'indicators' from Russia before any deployment of nuclear weapons, something which would be a 'catastrophe'.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'We believe that Russia is running short of munitions, it's certainly running short of friends and we have seen, because of the declaration for mobilisation, that it is running short of troops.'
Sir Jeremy said Moscow's top brass were 'worried about the state of their military machine', adding 'the word I have used is desperate and we can see that desperation at many levels inside Russian society and inside the Russian military machine'.
Despite the problems facing Moscow, Mr Putin still had 'deep stocks and expertise' in his military, as shown by Monday's co-ordinated strikes against Ukraine's cities.
Pressed on whether GCHQ would know if Mr Putin was considering using nuclear weapons, Sir Jeremy said: 'I would hope that we would see indicators if they started to go down that path, but let's be really clear about that: if they are considering that, that would be a catastrophe.'
Yuri Podolyak, a military analyst speaking on Channel 1, said Russia is 'easily' capable of sustaining the intensity of Monday's attacks throughout the winter - predicting that the consequences for Ukraine would be 'catastrophic'.
'A red line has been crossed, and I think this is now obvious to everyone,' he said.
'All European governments have promptly requested that their embassies be evacuated from Kyiv.
'They realise this is not just a one day event, that this will continue and that winter in Ukraine will be catastrophic.'
Meanwhile Konstantin Dolgov, former Russian commissioner for human rights, also urged Putin to keep up the bombardment, asking TV viewers: 'Are they whining yet? Are they howling yet?'
Defence analyst, Alexander Artamonov, said Western hopes that Russia would run out of missiles would never come true. They will never end.'
The pro-war fanatic insisted: 'It is of course necessary that strikes continue in a systematic way, given that Ukrainian society is at present, in my view, psychiatrically ill. In psychiatry, people are not given weapons.
'Naturally, they are treated, and naturally they should have essential benefits, but anything that can be turned into a weapon, be it a car, a knife, a gun, or some other thing must be seized.
'So if bridges are cut and railways too are destroyed there will not be capacity to deliver troops to the frontline.'
Moscow's barrage of missile strikes on cities all across Ukraine elicited celebration from Russian officials and pro-Kremlin pundits, who in recent weeks have criticized the Russian military for a series of embarrassing setbacks on the battlefield.
Commentators and war correspondents lauded Monday's attack as an appropriate, and long-awaited, response to Ukraine's successful counteroffensive in the northeast and the south and a weekend attack on a key bridge between Russia and Crimea.
Many argued, however, that Moscow should keep up the intensity of Monday's missile strikes in order to win the war now.
'Putin's initiative is weakening and he is becoming more dependent on circumstances and those who are forging the `victory' (in Ukraine) for him,' Tatyana Stanovaya, founder of the independent R.Politik think-tank, wrote in an online commentary Monday.
Putin's supporters have been calling for drastic steps on the Ukraine battlefield for weeks. These calls intensified over the weekend, shortly after an explosion on the Kerch Bridge linking Crimea to Russia sent shock waves around the globe.
84 Russian missiles were launched at cities across Ukraine on Monday (pictured) with the bombardment continuing today
Firefighters work to extinguish a blaze at a car workshop in the city of Zaporizhzhia, in southern Ukraine, after it was hit by Russian missiles overnight
Emergency services said Russian rockets hit schools, medical centres and homes in Zaporizhzhia (pictured) overnight, killing at least one person
Firefighters work to extinguish a blaze caused by a Russian missile strike on the city of Zaporizhzhia overnight, killing at least one person
Firefighters work at the site of a car retailer office building, destroyed during a Russian missile attack in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine
Firefighters work at the site of a car retailer office building, destroyed during a Russian missile attack in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine
Russia will respond to the West's growing involvement in the Ukraine conflict although direct conflict with NATO is not in Moscow's interests, Russia's deputy foreign minister said on Tuesday after Washington pledged more military aid for Kyiv.
Ukraine on Monday said it needed to strengthen its air defence following Russia's biggest aerial assaults on cities since the beginning of the war, retaliation for what Moscow called a Ukrainian attack on a strategic bridge in Crimea.
U.S. President Joe Biden promised to provide advanced air defence systems, and the Pentagon said on Sept. 27 it would start delivering the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System over the next two months or so.
Biden and Group of Seven leaders will hold a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss their commitment to support Ukraine, the White House said.
'We warn and hope that they realise the danger of uncontrolled escalation in Washington and other Western capitals,' Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by RIA news agency on Tuesday.
Russia's ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, said more Western help to Ukraine raised the risk of a wider war.
'Such assistance, as well as providing Kiev with intelligence, instructors and combat guidelines, leads to further escalation and increased the risks of a clash between Russia and NATO,' Antonov told media.
The bridge, Europe's longest, is a prominent symbol of Russian military might and was opened by Putin himself in 2018.
'And?' Margarita Simonyan, head of the state-funded RT television, wondered on social media about Moscow's response to the attack on the bridge.
'This is one of those cases when the country needs to show we can hit back,' wrote Alexander Kots, a war correspondent for Russia's popular pro-Kremlin tabloid, Komsomolskaya Pravda.
'It is time for fighting! Fiercely, even cruelly. Without looking back at whatever censures from the West,' Sergei Mironov, a senior Russian lawmaker who leads the state-backed A Just Russia party tweeted Saturday.
'There won't be any bigger sanctions. They won't say any worse words. We need to do our thing. We started it - we should go till the end. There is no way back. Time to respond!'
The response came on Monday morning, with Moscow launching dozens of missiles at Ukrainian cities simultaneously, killing and wounding scores and inflicting unprecedented damage on Ukraine's critical infrastructure.
The strikes, which hit 15 Ukrainian cities, most of them regional capitals, knocked out power lines, damaged railway stations and roads, and left cities without water supplies.
For the first time in months, Russian missiles exploded in the very heart of Kyiv, in dangerous proximity to government buildings.
Putin said Monday the strikes were in retaliation for what he called Kyiv's 'terrorist' actions targeting the Kerch Bridge, and vowed a 'tough' and 'proportionate' response should Ukraine carry out further attacks that threaten Russia's security.
'No one should have any doubts about it,' he said.
'Here comes the response,' RT's Simonyan tweeted on Monday after the attacks. 'The Crimean bridge was that very red line from the very beginning.'
The strongman leader of Chechnya, a Russian region in the North Caucasus, Ramzan Kadyrov said he is now '100% happy' with how the Kremlin's 'special military operation' is going.
He was among the most ardent proponents of 'more drastic measures' in Ukraine, even calling for using low-yield nuclear weapons.
Emergency crews search the ruins of a house in Zaporizhzhia, a city in southern Ukraine, which continued to be bombed overnight
A massive salvo of Russian missiles hit virtually every Ukrainian city Monday, killing at least 19 and wounding more than 100 (pictured, the city of Zaporizhzhia)
A sniffer dog searches the ruins of a destroyed apartment building in the city of Zaporizhzhia for survivors after a Russian missile struck
People embrace in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv after at least four missiles struck the city on Monday, killing multiple people during the morning rush hour
A young girl looks at suspected debris from a missile at the site of a blast by a pedestrian bridge over looking the Dnipro River in Kyiv
Ukrainian emergency workers rest after searching the rubble of a destroyed building in the city of Zaporizhzhia for victims following a Russian missile attack
The Moscow-installed governor of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, described the strikes as 'good news.'
The cheering by Kremlin supporters, however, came with demands for Putin and the Russian military to keep up the pace and intensity of the attacks and damage inflicted on Ukraine's infrastructure.
Aksyonov, in his statement, stressed that 'had such actions to destroy the enemy's infrastructure been taken every day, then we would have finished everything in May and the Kyiv regime would have been defeated.'
'I hope that now the pace of the operation will not slow down,' Aksyonov wrote.
RT's top host Anton Krasovsky, after posting a video of himself dancing on a balcony in a cap with a Z on it, said in another Telegram post that the damage to Ukraine's power lines was 'not enough! Not enough!'
Another state TV journalist, Andrei Medvedev, called Monday's attacks 'a logical step, which not just the society has long demanded - the military situation demanded a different approach to the hostilities.'
'And so it happened. But does it change much?' Medvedev, who works for Russia's state TV group VGTRK and holds a seat in the Moscow City Council, wrote on Telegram.
'If the strikes on the critical infrastructure become regular, if the strikes on railways, bridges and power plants become part of our tactics, then yes, it does change (the situation).
But for now, according to (official) statements, a decision to plunge Ukraine into medieval times has not been made,' Medvedev wrote.
Political analyst Stanovaya noted in a Telegram post Monday that 'powerful pressures' have been on Putin 'to move onto aggressive actions, massive bombings' and that prompted him to act.
'As of today, one can say that Putin was persuaded to resort to a more aggressive line. And it corresponds with his understanding on the situation. But it is a slippery slope - there is no way back,' Stanovaya wrote.
This content was originally published here.