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Putin threatens new military strikes on Ukraine infrastructure

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Kremlin/Released)
September 17, 2022

Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to step up attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, vowing to continue his invasion after his forces suffered some of their worst reverses in the 7-month-old campaign.

In his first public comments on the issue since Ukraine said it retook as much as a tenth of the territory Russia had seized, Putin was dismissive of the counteroffensive. “We’ll see how it goes,” he said, noting that Russian forces are continuing to advance in other areas.

“Just recently the Russian armed forces hit some sensitive targets. Let’s consider that warning strikes,” Putin told Russian media reporters Friday in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where he was attending a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a China-led bloc. “If the situation develops further in this direction, our response will be more serious.”

Putin said Russia’s military campaign was “proceeding at a slow pace, but consistently” and claimed Moscow was using “only part” of its army. “Bit by bit, the Russian army is taking control of more and more territory,” he said.

Ukraine wrested control of a large swathe of the northeast of the country occupied by Russia in a lightning offensive this month that forced Russian troops to flee, abandoning their equipment. The sudden losses dealt a major blow to the Kremlin’s efforts to seize eastern Ukraine. In response, Russia fired missiles that plunged large areas of Ukraine into darkness and attacked elements of the water system in a city behind the front lines, causing severe damage and flooding.

The Russian leader, who accused Ukraine of targeting civilian infrastructure as well as assassinating pro-Moscow officials in Russian-controlled territories, said the Kremlin is “in no rush” to complete its invasion. Ukraine denies striking civilian facilities and killing collaborators.

Putin’s comments came just hours after he told Narendra Modi that Russia would “do everything to end this as soon as possible.” The Indian prime minister chided the Russian leader, saying, “Today’s era is not one for war.”

In his comments to reporters, Putin reiterated his claim that he’s ready to negotiate with Ukraine but blamed Kyiv for being unwilling to talk. Ukrainian officials have demanded a full Russian withdrawal as a condition for diplomacy.

Earlier Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said authorities had discovered hundreds of graves in territory retaken from Russian occupation and demanded that the Kremlin be held accountable for war crimes.


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