Over drinks, he said with a sneer that international condemnation of the airstrikes “will not prevent us from accomplishing our military objectives.”
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Since early October, Moscow has fired a slew of missiles at energy and infrastructure sites across Ukraine, causing rolling blackouts and knocking entire communities without water, power and, in some cases, heat as cold winter temperatures drop.
Ukrainian officials and some Western leaders have described Moscow’s actions as a potential war crime because of the impact on civilians. The Kremlin insisted the bombing had a military purpose, but in a speech on Thursday, Putin cast it as tit-for-tat retaliation.
The Russian president accused Kyiv of instigating the strike and singled out the early October attack on the Crimea bridge – a $4 billion bridge that symbolizes Putin’s imperial ambitions in Ukraine, linking Crimea with Russia. Continents are connected.
Kyiv has not officially claimed responsibility for the blast, but the incident was widely celebrated in Ukraine, where officials privately acknowledged the role of Ukrainian special forces.
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“Who attacked the Crimean bridge?” Putin asked. “Who blew up the power lines at the Kursk NPP?”
Putin also accused the world of keeping quiet about Ukraine’s mistreatment of citizens in the predominantly Russian-speaking Donetsk region – even though it was Russia that had fomented a separatist war there since 2014.
“Who doesn’t supply water to Donetsk,” Putin asked. “To deny water to a city of 1 million people is an act of genocide.”
Since Moscow began its attacks on infrastructure, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on citizens to limit electricity use and seek shelter during airstrike warnings.
“More than ever, we need to help each other and care for each other in order to get through this winter,” Zelensky wrote in a Telegram on Thursday. “To get through the winter, we must be more resilient and united than ever before.”