Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said that recent airstrikes on Ukraine’s energy grid, which have caused huge blackouts, are part of the Kremlin’s “demilitarization” of its neighbor.

His comments came after Moscow launched a barrage of aerial attacks on Thursday, targeting energy facilities across Ukraine.

“We assume that in this way we have an influence on the Ukrainian military-industrial complex,” said Putin during a meeting at the Kremlin with his ally and Belarus counterpart Alexander Lukashenko.

Putin said the strikes were also in response to Kyiv targeting Russia’s energy infrastructure, including oil refineries, as the conflict drags on into its third year.

“We have seen recently a series of strikes on our energy sites and we were obliged to respond,” said Putin.

The leader claimed that Russia had not targeted Ukrainian electrical installations during the winter “for humanitarian reasons”.

“We did not want to deprive electricity to social infrastructures, hospitals etc.”

Russian strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure during the winter of 2022-2023 left millions of people without light or heating for long periods.

This last winter, Ukraine’s electrical grid was hit less often, until Moscow launched a new wave of attacks starting in early March.

On Thursday, Russia pounded Ukraine’s energy facilities with around 40 drone attacks, destroying a power station in the Kyiv region.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky renewed his appeals for fresh air defense systems on a visit to Lithuania.


with AFP