Russian pro-war bloggers and officials hailed Monday’s air strikes on cities across Ukraine, with many calling the attacks the first step of Moscow's retaliation to last week's humiliating blast on the Crimean Bridge.
Some 80 Russian missiles slammed into 16 Ukrainian cities early Monday, including a number of cities in western Ukraine as well as Kyiv, the first attack on the Ukrainian capital since June 26.
The strikes were praised by many pro-Kremlin voices, who have grown increasingly frustrated with Moscow’s failures on the battlefield in recent months.
"And there's the answer for you," Margarita Simonyan, chief editor of the Kremlin-funded RT network, tweeted following the strikes on Ukraine. "The Crimean Bridge was the red line from the very beginning. It was obvious."
“It is hoped that this is not a one-time act of retaliation, but a new way of fighting the war,” pro-Kremlin journalist Alexander Kotz wrote.
The major escalation in violence across Ukraine follows Saturday's attack on the Moscow-built Crimean Bridge that connects the annexed peninsula to mainland Russia — and the subsequent appointment of notorious General Sergei Surovikin to lead Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.
“Surovikin, we already love you, keep going!” the Turned On Z-War Telegram channel wrote.
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the blasts deliberately targeted Ukrainian energy infrastructure as well as civilians, leaving many dead and wounded.
The leader of the southern Russian republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, a vocal backer of the war in Ukraine, slammed the wartime Ukrainian president's comments on his personal Telegram account Monday.
“Zelensky complains about attacks in Kyiv and other cities. But why do you, loser-Zelensky, think you can [attack cities], but others can't?” the Chechen ruler said, adding: “Now I am 100% satisfied with the special military operation.”
Sergei Aksyonov, the Russian head of annexed Crimea, said Monday's strikes were "just the beginning."
"I remember that after the terrorist attack on the Crimean bridge, they wrote on their channels: 'What's next, Russians?' Here is their answer. And this is just the beginning."
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev also hinted at further retaliation by Russia, writing: "The first episode has been played. There will be others."
Medvedev, who is now deputy chair of Russia's Security Council, vowed that Moscow would continue to strike at Ukraine until what he called the "Nazi political regime" in Kyiv is toppled.
But amid the praise by Russian war hawks, some voiced concerns over the possible Ukrainian response to Moscow's new war tactics.
“For everyone who is too pleased, and for everyone in general. The answer will be inevitable strikes on Russian cities,” wrote popular war blogger and writer Zakhar Prilepin on Telegram.
“The escalation will only increase. Zelensky is already sitting and thinking how to respond, and how to inflict maximum pain.”