Putin admits attacks on Ukraine infrastructure, asking, ‘Who started it?’


Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted on Thursday that Moscow is targeting Ukraine’s most vulnerable civilian infrastructure, and vowed to continue the offensive – which, as winter begins, has left many million people do not have heating, electricity and water.

“There is now a lot of noise about our attacks on the energy infrastructure of neighboring countries,” Putin said, during an award ceremony Thursday in the Kremlin. “Yes, we do this. But who started it?”

Holding a drink and speaking defiantly, he said international criticism of the killing “will not prevent us from achieving our military objectives.”

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Since early October, Moscow has fired dozens of missiles at energy and infrastructure sites across Ukraine, leading to blackouts and depriving the region of water, electricity and sometimes heat as freezing temperatures descend.

Ukrainian officials and some Western leaders have described Moscow’s actions as potential war crimes because of their impact on civilians. The Kremlin insists the bombings had military purposes, but in his speech Thursday, Putin cast them as revenge.

The Russian president accused Kyiv of being provocative, pointing out, in particular, the attack in early October on the Crimean Bridge – a $4 billion symbol of Putin’s imperial ambitions in Ukraine, connecting Crimea with Russian land.

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Kyiv has not publicly claimed responsibility for the blast but the event is being held in Ukraine and officials have agreed to keep the work of Ukraine’s special services secret.

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“Who hit the Crimean Bridge?” Putin refused. “Who blew up the cables of the Kursk nuclear power station?”

Putin also accused the world of remaining silent on Ukraine’s treatment of citizens in the Russian-speaking Donetsk region – despite the separatist war there since 2014 being led by Russia.

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“Who does not provide water to Donetsk,” Putin asked. “Not providing water to a city of 1 million people is murder.”

Since Moscow’s attacks on infrastructure began, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on citizens to use their powers and seek refuge during air raid warnings.

“To get through this winter, we need to help each other more than ever and take care of each other even more,” Zelensky wrote in Telegram on Thursday. “To get through the winter, we must be more flexible and united than ever.”


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