Russia pounds a freezing Ukraine with air strikes

STORY: Ukrainians on Monday inspected a massive crater in the southeastern village of Novosofiivka… where officials say at least two people were killed and several homes destroyed in a new round of Russian missile attacks.

A 62-year-old resident recalled the terrifying moment when the blasts hit:

“Both of my neighbours were killed. They stood by the car, they were seeing off their son and daughter-in-law. They both live in a nearby village. They went outside to see them off and they were killed. Oh my… Their house is also destroyed.”

It was a tragic shock to residents… even as a new barrage had been anticipated for days.

Sirens wailed – warning people to quickly seek shelter from the missiles.

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk was forced to meet with human rights activists in an underground bunker in Kyiv:

"There was a wave of missile attacks against Ukraine, including some of them ending up in the proximity of Kyiv. You can imagine what this means for the population, it has become almost the new normal. But it has a huge impact on civilians, and it has to stop."

Thousands of civilians sought safety and warmth in the capital’s underground metro... some passing the time sketching, or petting their dogs.

One woman said she thought the missile attacks – which knocked out power in many areas, again – were purposefully timed because of the cold.

ANNA MUILINA: "I hope there will be no massive destruction. But they waited until the temperature got to -5, -6 degrees Celsius, until it got cold. But we have blankets, sleeping bags, camping gas and the metro. I believe we will endure it even if they inflict some destruction today."

Russia on Monday said it too saw destruction; claiming that three of its military personnel were killed in Ukrainian drone attacks on two Russian air bases hundreds of miles from the front lines in Ukraine.

Ukraine did not directly claim responsibility. If it did carry out the attacks, they were the deepest military strikes it has conducted inside the Russian heartland since Moscow invaded on Feb. 24.

As the Russian military suffers setbacks in its nearly ten-month offensive, President Vladimir Putin on Monday took a ride in a Mercedes across a key bridge linking Russia to Russian-occupied Crimea.

His drive across the critical span comes less than two months after massive explosions disrupted traffic on the key supply line.

Putin – who personally opened the bridge in 2018 – was shown on state television speaking with his Deputy Prime Minister about the attack. And as he walked on foot along the bridge, inspecting visibly scorched sections, Putin inquired as to when the bridge would be repaired.

Kyiv has not claimed responsibility for any of the blasts, saying only that such incidents are "karma" for Russia's invasion.