China has offered a muted response to a blast that crippled the Crimean Bridge and the subsequent shelling of Ukrainian cities, calling for de-escalation of the war in Ukraine . Foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said “we have noted the relevant reports”, when asked about the explosion and bombings across Ukraine on Monday. “We also hope that the situation can de-escalate as quickly as possible.” On Sunday – asked at the ministry’s daily news briefing about the huge explosion on the bridge linking Russia and the Crimean peninsula the previous day – Mao had only said that Beijing had noted the “relevant reports”, without elaborating. The situation in Ukraine escalated on Monday after the blast. Russian missiles struck cities across Ukraine , including the capital Kyiv, leaving craters in roads and playgrounds. Ukraine’s internal affairs ministry said on messaging app Telegram that explosions had damaged more than 20 residential buildings in the capital. Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised address that Russia had launched strikes on Monday morning with long-range precision weapons against the energy, military and communications facilities of Ukraine. Mao did not directly respond to a question asking whether China was concerned about the escalating situation in Ukraine, but repeated Beijing’s usual call for peace talks. She also did not comment when asked about Putin’s description of the bridge explosion as a terrorist attack . “China is in communication with all parties,” she said. “We are willing to play a constructive role to help de-escalate the situation.” The Chinese embassy in Kyiv on Monday told Chinese nationals not to come to Ukraine, and said those in the country should prepare for emergencies and avoid any danger to their personal safety. “Air strikes are frequent across Ukraine, and the security situation is critical,” the embassy said in a post on social media network WeChat. As Russia’s only direct road and rail link to Crimea, the 19km (12-mile) bridge is a key supply route to the peninsula and a potent symbol of Russian control. When the bridge opened to traffic in 2018, Putin hailed the event as “historic” and said it would bring Crimea closer to Russia. State news agency Tass reported that he told construction workers it had been Russia’s dream to build such a bridge, dating back to the time under the tsar. Dmitry Belik, a Russian lawmaker representing Sevastopol, the largest city in Crimea, told Tass in 2019 that it was unrealistic for Ukraine to destroy the bridge. Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, China has not helped Russia militarily. But it has declined to label the war as an invasion, and Chinese state media has repeated Russian narratives – including that the United States and Nato had ignored Moscow’s security concerns. Russia’s investigation committee on Saturday said the explosion was caused by a truck travelling on the bridge. The blast ignited fuel tankers of a freight train also on the bridge. It accused Ukrainian special services, Russian citizens and unnamed foreign countries of helping to cause the explosion. Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the blast but its officials have celebrated the damage. Oleksandr Turchynov, former chief of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, described the bridge in 2018 as a “serious threat” to the country because it allowed Moscow to quickly move army troops from Russia to the peninsula to support Russian offensives in southern Ukraine.