Russia to ramp up attacks on Ukraine – Putin
Ukraine's weekend attack on the Russian city of Belgorod, which has left dozens of civilians dead and injured, was an act of terrorism, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday. Kiev will not be left unpunished when it engages in such activities, he warned.
The president insisted that Moscow will not retaliate in kind with indiscriminate attacks on civilians, but will focus instead on Ukraine’s military sites.
The president made the remarks on New Year’s Day at a military hospital in Moscow, where he met Russian servicemen wounded during the ongoing military operation. One of the servicemen asked Putin about his take on the Ukrainian strike on Belgorod and Moscow’s approach to retaliation; the president squarely described it as a “terrorist act,” which was carried out using indiscriminate weaponry.
“With these weapons they struck right at the center of the city, where people were going out on New Year’s Eve. Just an attack, a targeted strike on the civilian population. Of course, this is a terrorist attack; there is no other way to describe it,” Putin said. Ukraine's efforts at terror are aimed at destabilizing Russia and “intimidating” the country’s population, he explained.
Russia will not retaliate in kind to Kiev’s actions, despite being capable of doing so, Putin stressed. “Of course, we can, we are capable of carpet-bombing Kiev and any other [Ukrainian] city,” the president noted.
Instead, Russia will continue targeting Ukrainian military assets and infrastructure, Putin said, warning that the number of such strikes is bound to grow. The Ukrainian authorities’ terrorist activities will not be left unanswered, he stressed.
Of course, not a single such crime, and this is certainly a crime against the civilian population, will be left unpunished, there can be no doubt about that.
“We are striking with high-precision weapons at the decision-making centers, at locations where military personnel and mercenaries gather, at other nodes of this kind, at military facilities, first of all. And they are quite painful, these strikes. That’s what we’ll continue to do,” Putin stated.
Belgorod, as well as other regions of southwestern Russia, have been subjected to repeated artillery, missile and drone strikes by Ukrainian forces amid the ongoing conflict. The city was subjected to the deadliest attack to date attack on Saturday, when it was struck with missiles fired by multiple rocket launchers.
The munitions damaged a number of public venues and residential buildings. The attack, reportedly ordered personally by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, claimed the lives of at least 24 civilians and left over 100 injured.