Ukraine war: Putin says Russia will ‘intensify’ strikes after ‘terrorist attack’ on city of Belgorod

President Vladimir Putin said Monday that Moscow will intensify strikes on military targets in Ukraine after an unprecedented attack over the weekend on the Russian city of Belgorod.

The attack killed 24 people and left over 100 wounded in Belgorod on Saturday. It came after Moscow launched a large-scale attack on Ukrainian cities.

“We’re going to intensify the strikes, no crime against civilians will rest unpunished, that’s for certain,” Putin said Monday during a visit to a military hospital.

Russian firefighters extinguish burning cars after shelling in Belgorod, Russia on December, 30 2023. Photo: EPA-EFE/Russian Emergencies Ministry Handout

He said Russia will press on with hitting what he called “military installations.”

“We are doing that today, and tomorrow we will continue doing it,” Putin said, almost two years into Moscow’s offensive.

He spoke as Ukraine said Russia had hit it with a “record” number of drones on New Year’s Day.

Putin called the Belgorod hit a “terrorist attack” and accused Ukrainian forces of targeting “right in the city centre, where people were walking, before New Year’s Eve.”

He repeated a claim that Ukraine is being used by the West to “settle its problems” with Russia.

The Russian leader said he believed the “strategic initiative” in the dragging conflict was on the Russian side.

“In any case that is how I am being briefed and I always insist: any offensive operations should be done after a defeat of the enemy,” he said, according to the Interfax news agency.

In a wide-ranging conversation with the servicemen, Putin said that the course of the war in Ukraine was changing in Russia’s favour, and that Moscow hoped to end the war, but only on its own terms.

Putin’s traditional new year address delivered on Sunday made only a passing reference to the war in Ukraine, a sharp contrast to last year’s speech.

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