TALLINN, Estonia (AP) Moscows barrage of missile strikes on cities all across Ukraine has elicited celebratory comments from Russian officials and pro-Kremlin pundits, who in recent weeks have actively criticized the Russian military for a series of embarrassing setbacks on the battlefield.

Russian nationalist commentators and state medias war correspondents lauded Mondays attack as an appropriate, and long-awaited, response to Ukraines successful counteroffensive in the northeast and the south and a weekend attack on a key bridge between Russia and Crimea, the prized Black Sea peninsula Russia annexed in 2014.

Many argued, however, that Moscow should keep up the intensity of Mondays missile strikes in order to win the war now. Some analysts suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin is becoming a hostage of his own allies views on how the campaign in Ukraine should unfold. ADVERTISEMENT

Putins 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.

The fear of defeat is so strong, especially for those who are now fully immersed in this military venture, that Putins indecisiveness, with his logic of we have not started anything yet and restrained tactics have paid off has become a problem, the analyst said.Russia-Ukraine warLive Updates: Russia-Ukraine WarMissiles hit Ukrainian city, alarms elsewhere keep up fearAnalysts: Russian missiles seek to levy pain, could backfirePoll: Majority in US see relations with adversaries souring

Putins 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. The bridge, Europes 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 Moscows 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 Russias 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 wont be any bigger sanctions. They wont 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!ADVERTISEMENT

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 Ukraines 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. ADVERTISEMENT

Putin said Monday the strikes were in retaliation for what he called Kyivs terrorist actions targeting the Kerch Bridge, and vowed a tough and proportionate response should Ukraine carry out further attacks that threaten Russias security.

No one should have any doubts about it, he said.

Here comes the response, RTs 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 Kremlins 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.

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 Ukraines infrastructure. ADVERTISEMENT

Aksyonov, in his statement, stressed that had such actions to destroy the enemys 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.

RTs 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 Ukraines power lines was not enough! Not enough!

Another state TV journalist, Andrei Medvedev, called Mondays 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 Russias 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. ADVERTISEMENT

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.


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