Russia is sticking to its goal of completely absorbing the territories it annexed in violation of international law. Luhansk and Donetsk are again under heavy fire. President Putin has announced that the attacks will continue to target Ukraine's energy supply.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure will continue. "Yes, we're doing that. But who started it?" Putin said at an event in the Moscow Kremlin. According to him, the attacks are Russia's response to an explosion at the bridge to the annexed peninsular island and other attacks for which Russia blames Ukraine. Russia recently launched a targeted attack on Ukraine's energy infrastructure, which led to massive power, water and heat supply failures in wintry temperatures.
In addition, Russia is pushing ahead with its offensive in eastern Ukraine. The armed forces continue their air and ground attacks on several towns and villages. Near the city of Lysychansk, Russia moved more troops to try to capture the village of Bilohorivka, the region's Ukrainian governor said. A commander in another heavily contested settlement spoke of an increasingly intense Russian air offensive. The wave of attacks again caused power outages in Ukraine.
According to the Office of the President, Russia is planning further "liberation" of the annexed Ukrainian regions. When asked about the goals of the war, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia still has to "liberate" parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia. Russia annexed the four regions after mock referendums in September. There are "constant attacks," said Luhansk governor Serhiy Hajdaj on Ukrainian television about the Russian offensive. "They are bringing more and more reserves to the Bilohorivka area in an attempt to take the village."
Nine civilians were killed in the attacks in the city of Bakhmut and other parts of the Donetsk region, which borders Luhansk, the region's governor said. Ukrainian forces responded by firing rocket launchers, according to Reuters eyewitnesses. Fighting was ongoing along the entire so-called demarcation line in Donetsk. A spokeswoman for the Donetsk regional administration said the frontline town of Avdiivka was fired upon by Russian tanks in the morning. Reports from the war zone often cannot be checked independently.
Putin said on Wednesday that the danger of a nuclear war was growing. Russia sees its nuclear arsenal only as a deterrent, but will defend itself "with all means". Putin was repeating similar statements since the beginning of the war. Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24. While Putin is talking about a "special military operation," NATO and the West are criticizing a war of aggression against Ukraine that violates international law.
Above all, Russia's most recent attacks on the infrastructure have been met with criticism. According to the electricity company DTEK, there are emergency shutdowns in Kyiv and the surrounding area, in the Odessa region in the south of the country and in Dnipro in the interior of the country. According to the network operator Ukrenergo, the weather is making the situation more difficult. The power lines in the west of the country froze. "All regions lack energy - up to a third of what is needed," said the governor of the Zaporizhia region, Olexander Starukh.