The Kremlin on Thursday denied that its attacks on Ukraine‘s electricity network were aimed at civilians, but said Kyiv could “end the suffering” of its population by meeting Russia‘s demands to resolve the conflict.
fired missile barrages against power infrastructure across Ukraine over the last few weeks have forced millions of people to go without light, water or heating for hours or days at a time, just as outdoor temperatures fall below freezing.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that “there have been no strikes on ‘social’ targets and there are none – special attention is paid to this”.
“As for targets that are directly or indirectly related to military potential, they are accordingly subject to strikes,” he said.
Peskov was asked how the suffering of Ukraine’s civilian population could be reconciled with President Vladimir Putin’s positions. Putin has said Russia does not wish to destroy Ukraine or its people.
“The leadership of Ukraine has every opportunity to bring the situation back to normal, has every opportunity to resolve the situation in such a way as to fulfill the requirements of the Russian side and, accordingly, end all possible suffering among the population.”
Peskov also said Russia does not plan to supply oil and gas to countries supporting a price cap on Russian oil, but will make a final decision once it analyzes all the figures.
The G7 is looking at a cap on Russian seaborne oil at $65-$70 a barrel, although European Union governments have not yet agreed on a price and talks are set to continue.
“As of now, we stand by President (Vladimir) Putin’s position that we will not supply oil and gas to the countries which would set (the cap) and join the cap,” Peskov told his daily call with reporters.
“But we need to analyze everything before we formulate our position.”
It comes as Ukraine’s nuclear energy chief said Russia risked causing a “nuclear and radioactive catastrophe” by launching attacks in which all Ukraine’s nuclear power plants were disconnected from the power grid for the first time in 40 years.
Ukrainian officials said on Wednesday that three nuclear power plants on territory held by Ukrainian forces had been switched off after the latest wave of Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian energy facilities.
Petro Kotin, head of nuclear power company Energoatom, said the vast nuclear power station in the Zaporizhzhia region of southern Ukraine, which has been out of commission since September, had also been disconnected from the grid on Wednesday and became reliant on backup diesel generators.
He added that the Zaporizhzhia plant, which has been occupied by Russian forces since soon after Russia invaded Ukraine nine months ago, had been reconnected to the grid by Thursday morning and that the backup generators were turned off.
“There is a real danger of a nuclear and radiation catastrophe being caused by firing on the entire territory of Ukraine with Russian cruise and ballistic missiles, and a huge risk of damage to nuclear plants,” he said in a written statement.
“Russia must answer for this shameful crime,” he said.
Each side has blamed the other for shelling of the Zaporizhzhia plant complex.
Energy Minister German Galushchenko said the Rivne, Pivdennoukrainsk and Khmelnytskyi nuclear power stations were expected to be back on line by Thursday evening after units there were switched off on Wednesday because of the Russian attacks.
Ukrainian officials have repeatedly warned of a new nuclear disaster in the country that suffered the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986 at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, which is no longer in operation.