MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin said on Friday that Russia's strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure were unavoidable as the Kremlin rejected US President Joe Biden's terms for talks and warned that the assault would continue.
Russia began targeting Ukrainian energy infrastructure in October after suffering humiliating military defeats during what has become the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War II.
Putin spoke to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for the first time since September, criticizing what he called the West's destructive policies in Ukraine and saying Russian strikes were a response to provocative attacks from Kyiv.
Moscow had long refrained from precision-missile strikes against certain targets on the territory of Ukraine, according to a Kremlin readout of the phone talks.
Such measures have become a forced response to Kyiv's provocative attacks on Russia's civilian infrastructure, the Kremlin said in October, referring in particular to the October attack on a bridge linking Moscow-annexed Crimea to the Russian mainland.
During the hour-long call with Putin, Scholz urged the Russian president to come as quickly as possible to a diplomatic solution, including the withdrawal of Russian troops, according to the German leader's spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.
Putin asked Berlin to reconsider its approaches in the context of the Ukrainian events, according to the Kremlin.
He accused the West of having carried out destructive policies in Ukraine, stressing that their political and financial aid leads to the fact that Kyiv completely rejects the idea of any negotiations with Russia while Putin is in power shortly after the Kremlin claimed to have annexed several Ukrainian regions.