Holding a drink and speaking defiantly, he said international criticism of the killing “will not prevent us from achieving our military objectives.”
Russia unlawfully killed 441 civilians in Kyiv region during war, UN finds
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.
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.
The Russian military has been accused of using violence in the diamond trade
“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.
“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.”