The October 10th Bombings of Ukraine


Eden Aulov

On Monday, October 10th of this year, a fifteen-year-old girl cowered in her house in terror, berated by an endless barrage of sounds: explosions, whooshing of drones, and worst of all, silence— because during this silence, so charged with energy, with gripping anticipation, her fear was most prevalent. When would be the next bombing? How were her friends? Upon looking outside, would her beloved city of Kyiv, which she had been birthed in, raised in, called her home, still be intact? Blissfully yet disastrously, the silence never lasted long. 

“Every five minutes, the earth shook from explosions and it was heard how rockets were flying. Near my house, something fell twice and because of this there was a fire.” This quote comes from my friend Raya, who lives in the beautiful city of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. Luckily for Raya, Kyiv would remain somewhat intact, as the Russian military carried out a series of Iranian-made drone strikes mainly targeting Ukrainian power stations, including electricity and subsequently, heating. 

The Cause: Before heading into the actual contents of the attacks, it is imperative to first look at the background of the events leading up to them: most importantly, the Crimea bridge explosion. This bridge, which links Russia to Crimea over the Kerch Strait, is Europe’s longest bridge and is key in both civilian and military commutes. Resulting in both physical and abstract consequences, the explosion destroyed a portion of the western-most part of the bridge, which fell into the Kerch Strait below, as well as caused major traffic for days following. Not only this, but it contributed further to the embarrassment of the Russian campaign, which is currently facing many problems as a result of their recent military failures. Essentially, a video showcasing the explosion around dawn of October 8th portrays a truck driving on this bridge, when, upon ascension, it is suddenly engulfed in the flames of a drastic explosion. The Russian Investigative Committee was instantly tasked with examination of this explosion, and determined the truck was the cause. However, analysts are confused by the narrative that the truck single-handedly was responsible for an explosion of this kind— this nature of a detonation would involve the force of the blast going upwards and outwards, not downwards, causing spans of the road to collapse into the water below. Not only this, but a suicide truck-bomber is considered by analysts to be somwhat bizarre in the context of this conflict, especially looking at the manner of defense Ukraine have conducted hitherto.

The Perfect Motive: On the day following the ignition, October 9th, the head of the Russian Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, shared the committee’s “unequivocal conclusion— [that it was] a terrorist attack that was being prepared by the Ukranian special services.” Of course, this statement would be beneficial for the Russian narrative of having a credible reason behind attacking Ukraine which doesn’t involve solely benefiting the assailants. Additionally, it would explain why the high levels of defense Russia employs at this bridge, including checking out each vehicle (which they did with this truck), failed to prevent the explosion. There is also the addition of the fact that this route is indeed a key supply/artillery route for the Russians and an explosion would cause, even if almost indecipherable, a dent in the efficiency of Russian supply transport. Most of all, it would largely benefit Russia in providing a motive for, the very next day, launching over eighty missiles targeting energy facilities and general infrastructure around and in Kyiv. Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency disputed the statement that they were behind the “terrorist attack,” on the bridge, claiming instead that Russia’s missile attack was predetermined days before the explosion. In a statement released, they said that Russian military units had “received instructions from the Kremlin to prepare massive missile strikes on the civilian infrastructure of Ukraine on October 2 and 3.” 

Justification: Vladimir Putin, the current Russian president, publicly stated on the tenth that Kyiv had “put itself on a par with the most odious terrorist groups.” He added, “It is simply impossible to leave the crimes of the Kyiv regime unanswered… In terms of the further act of terrorism on the territory of Russia, the Russian reply will be harsh and will be corresponding to the level of threat to the Russian Federation, have no doubt about it.” Putin is not the only Russian figure justifying the bombings of Kyiv and surrounding cities, which have killed at least 14 people and caused severe damages in infrastrucutre. In a United Nations General Assembly, Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzla, said there was “dangerous cynicism in the room with countries ganging up on Moscow” and he “scoffed at nations who accused his country of breaching the charter by invading Ukraine.” Ukraine’s ambassador Sergiy Kyslystya, in contrast, began his remarks with detailing his family sheltering in a building in terror as bombs rained upon his people, “unable to go to a bomb shelter because there was no electricity.” Indeed, the ramifications of Russia’s offense included the loss of internet and electricity across multiple regions including Kyiv, Lviv, Sumy, Ternopil, and Khemelnytsky. In fact, upon speaking to Raya on the twenty-first, I was informed that their heating had only come back on the day prior. 

The Weaponry: The actual attacks consisted of about eighty-five missiles being launched towards the Ukrainian capital and surrounding regions, with a little over forty being shot down by Ukraine. However, the other half of the missiles, including several Iranian-made kamikaze drones, exploded in and around the city center. Western analysts believe these drones are not Russia’s first choice as they are imagined to be running low on precision munitions. Iranian officials denied this, stating they never provided Russia with said weaponry, while American officials dispute that, stating they have been involved in transactions since last summer. 

The Ramifications: Since October 10th, Russia has hit around half of Ukraine’s thermal/power supply. While some power units are still somewhat functioning, the majority have stopped working completely, plunging Ukrainian cities into heatless, electricity-less ways of life. Herman Halushchenko, Ukraine’s Energy Minister, stated that around 30-40% of Ukraine’s energy system was destroyed or at least affected by the Russian offensive, losing 4000MW in generating capacity in total. When asked about the scale of the damage, he replied, “It’s quite a lot of capacity. I can tell you that it’s… at least half of thermal generation capacity, even more [than that].” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that 30% of power plants had been completely destroyed, resulting in extreme power losses across Ukraine. Halushchenko also implied that energy imports are and will be one of the solutions to this energy crisis, with negotiations already beginning with suppliers. 

It is important to note at this time that Russia is not yet considered a terrorist state by the United States. To put it lightly, and subsequently display my bias, even if the Crimea bridge explosion was a deliberate strike by Ukraine, it does not constitute the extent of the nature of the attacks Russia inflicted upon Ukraine on October 10th, and in the following attacks. The audacity of the Russian Federation and specifically, Putin, for referring to the actions of Ukraine as terrorism, is quite ironic coming from a nation which implemented drone strikes twenty times more severe than a bridge explosion. The motives of Russia, evidently shifted from expanding their empire to preserving the remnants of their pride, resulted in blatant and ridiculously veiled actions of terrorism credited to laughable reasons. If countries will not interfere, they must at the very least condemn the terrorism happening in the name of “revenge” and “justice.”