Gavriil Grigorov Pool Agence France-Presse “We will intensify strikes, no crime against civilians will go unpunished, that’s a certainty,” declared Vladimir Putin on Monday January 1.
Vladimir Putin vowed on Monday to “intensify” Russian strikes in Ukraine in retaliation for the Ukrainian army's unprecedented bombing of the Russian city of Belgorod on Saturday.
“We will intensify the strikes, no crime against civilians will go unpunished, that is a certainty,” Mr. Putin said during a visit to a military hospital, affirming that these strikes will be carried out “on military installations”.
This statement comes following several days of escalation of hostilities between Russians and Ukrainians after the attack which left 25 dead on Saturday in Belgorod, Russia, following a missile attack against Ukraine on Friday, which had caused a forty victims killed.
“We strike with precision weapons at places of decision-making, places where soldiers and mercenaries gather, other such centers, military installations above all,” continued Mr. Putin.
Qualifying the bombing of Belgorod as a “terrorist act”, which left 25 dead and more than a hundred injured on Saturday, he accused the Ukrainian forces of having struck “right in the center of the town, where people walk, before New Year’s Eve.”
Mr. Putin, however, considered that “Ukraine is not an enemy” in itself and accused the West of using the Kiev authorities to “settle (r) their own problems” with Russia.
The Russian president also assured that Moscow's forces now have, according to him, “the strategic initiative” on the front in Ukraine, where they have been nibbling ground since the failure of the Ukrainian summer counter-offensive .
Vladimir Putin also wished “a happy new year” on Monday to several representatives of different formations of the Russian army gathered around him near Moscow, according to images broadcast on Russian television.
For his part, regional governor Viatcheslav Gladkov announced that a four-year-old girl, who was in “very serious” condition, had died from her injuries, raising the toll from the bombing on Belgorod on Saturday at 25 dead.
According to him, 109 people were injured, 70 of whom are still in hospital.
In addition to the heavy deadly strikes of recent days, a Ukrainian attack on Donetsk during the New Year also left four people dead and 13 injured in this city under the control of Moscow in the east of Ukraine, announced an official installed by Moscow.
According to Denis Pushilin, Ukrainian forces targeted the center of this pro-Russian stronghold using cluster bombs.
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Record drone attack
“The enemy aimed to do as much harm as possible to the civilian population,” Mr. Pushilin lambasted on Telegram, asserting that these strikes had “no military sense.” .
According to emergency services cited by the Russian news agency TASS, a journalist was among those killed and another among those injured.
Donetsk, a large city in eastern Ukraine, came under the control of pro-Russian separatists led by Moscow in 2014 and has since been regularly bombed by the Ukrainian army.
The Ukrainian strikes also damaged a school, apartment buildings, a store, a business center and other buildings, the Russian Investigative Committee said on Telegram.
Ukraine, for its part, claimed to have faced a “record” attack by 90 Russian drones on New Year's Eve that targeted several cities including Odessa (south) and Lviv (west), leaving at least one dead.
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry finally announced on Monday the death of two people, another being injured, in a drone attack on an apartment building in the Sumy region (north-east) .