President Vladimir Putin promised on Thursday that he would continue to shield Ukraine’s energy grid despite an outcry against systematic attacks that have plunged millions of people into cold and darkness as winter sets in.
they blamed instead ukraine Pointing to an explosion at a key bridge between the Russian mainland and the recently visited Crimea peninsula, for starting a trend of attacking civilian infrastructure.
“There is a lot of noise about our attacks on a neighboring country’s energy infrastructure. This will not interfere with our combat missions,” Putin said at a military awards ceremony in the Kremlin.
Weeks of Russian missile barrages across Ukraine have crippled vital infrastructure at a critical time, as temperatures plunge ahead of long months of winter that have already left Ukrainians vulnerable to water, heating and gas shortages. troubling people.
He presented the attacks as a response to the explosion at the Kerch bridge in October and also accused Kiev of blowing up power lines from the Kursk nuclear power plant and not supplying water to Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
“Yeah, we do,” Putin said of the attacks on the Ukraine grid. “But who started it?”
Ukrainian energy operator Ukrainergo said on Thursday it was still reeling from the latest round of attacks this week and was suffering “significant losses”.
‘Risk’ for Crimea
“The situation is complicated by weather conditions,” adding that snow, frost and wind were putting pressure on infrastructure.
Putin’s promise to continue attacking the grid came as the Kremlin acknowledged the Crimean peninsula was vulnerable to Ukrainian attacks, after officials said they shot down a drone near a major naval base.
“Of course there are risks as the Ukrainian side continues its policy of organizing terrorist attacks,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“But, on the other hand, the information we get indicates that effective counter-measures are being taken,” he said.
Sergei Aksyonov, the Moscow-appointed governor of Crimea, said last month that Russia was strengthening fortifications on the peninsula in the wake of the attacks.
And the governors of two Russian regions bordering Ukraine have said they oversaw the construction of defense lines days after Ukraine’s drone attacks on major military air bases.
In the latest incident in Crimea on Thursday, Russia said it shot down a drone over the Black Sea near Sevastopol, the largest city on the Crimean peninsula that hosts a major Russian naval base.
“As always, our military did its job well,” said Mikhail Razvozayev, governor of the Sevastopol administrative region.
The peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014 after a so-called referendum that was never recognized by Ukraine and the West. Moscow said in September it had annexed four more regions of Ukraine, while not having full control over them.
Russia used Crimea as one of its launching pads for its military intervention in Ukraine on 24 February, and it has been regularly attacked by drones.
There have been several explosions at or near Russian military installations in Crimea since February, including a coordinated drone attack on a major Russian naval port in Sevastopol.
Thursday’s drone shooting followed a series of attacks deep in Russia – including at Engels Airfield, a strategic bomber military base – for which Ukraine has not claimed responsibility.
Separately, the Russian security services (FSB) arrested two people in Crimea on charges of spying for Ukraine and charged them with “treason”, the agency’s press service said on Thursday.
“The illegal activities of two Russian citizens suspected of committing high treason in the form of espionage in the interests of the Security Service of Ukraine were stopped,” the FSB said in a statement.
One of those detained “is a supporter of Ukrainian nationalist ideology and was recruited by the Ukrainian secret services in 2016,” the statement said.
He is suspected of “transferring data to a foreign security agency at the location of Russia’s Defense Ministry facilities that could be used against Russia’s security.”
The attacks on the Ukrainian grid come after a series of battlegrounds for Russia in its retreat from Kherson last month.
Fighting has now shifted further east, specifically in the eastern Ukraine city of Bakhmut and Kyiv said on Thursday that 11 Ukrainians had been killed in fighting a day earlier.
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