Moscow disputed claims by Ukraine and France that Russian bombings targeted civilian infrastructure. According to the Russian defense, the damage in kyiv was caused by the Ukrainian anti-aircraft defense.
In the aftermath of a new wave of strikes against targets in Ukraine on November 23, Moscow brushed aside the accusations leveled against it by the Ukrainian and French presidents, who alternately claimed that the Russian bombardments had deliberately targeted infrastructure civilians in Kyiv. It found itself, like other Ukrainian cities, largely deprived of electricity and running water.
No strikes against targets within Kyiv city limits
In a November 24 press release, the Russian defense explained that a new “massive strike with high-precision weapons” had indeed been carried out against the Ukrainian military command system and “energy installations linked to it”, assuring that “all designated targets were hit”. These bombings would thus have made it possible to disrupt the logistics of the Ukrainian armed forces, in particular the transit of “foreign armament, military equipment and ammunition to the combat zones”.
On the other hand, the ministry stresses “that there were no strikes against targets within the city limits of kyiv”, and that all the destruction in the capital was “the consequence of the fall of missiles launched at from foreign and Ukrainian air defense systems deployed in residential areas” of the city.
On November 23, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced before the United Nations Security Council a “crime against humanity” perpetrated according to him by Russia via these attacks against energy infrastructures. “With temperatures below zero, several million people without energy supply, without heating and without water, this is obviously a crime against humanity”, he lambasted during a brief statement by video to the Security Council, during an emergency meeting that he himself had called for.
For Paris, these strikes constitute “war crimes”
On the same day, Emmanuel Macron affirmed that “any strike against civilian infrastructure constitutes a war crime and cannot go unpunished”, while confirming the holding of a meeting of Ukraine’s international supporters “to help the country resist and guarantee its access to energy”, scheduled for Paris on 13 December.
Massive bombardments took place today against Ukraine, leaving much of the country without water or electricity. Any strike against civilian infrastructure constitutes a war crime and cannot go unpunished.
—Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) November 23, 2022
Following in his footsteps, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release accusing Russia of having “deliberately damaged the power supply networks which contribute to the security of several critical infrastructures on Ukrainian territory”.
Insisting on the fact that these bombings “did not pursue any military target”, French diplomacy asserted that there was “a clear desire on the part of Russia to make the Ukrainian people suffer, to deprive them of water, heating and electricity to undermine its resilience. By deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure, Moscow is committing “acts [qui] clearly constitute war crimes,” according to Paris.
The Kremlin castigates the indifference of Paris to the strikes on the Donbass
Asked by the press about the French president’s remarks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov indicated on November 24 that Russia was “ready to accept such statements” only on condition that they are accompanied by “similar statements condemning Ukrainian artillery strikes against civilian infrastructure and residential buildings in the Donbass, which have continued since 2014”. However, “we have not heard any condemnation from the French leaders [à ce sujet]”, he added.
Dmitry Peskov also stressed that kyiv had the possibility of putting an end to “the suffering of the civilian population” by starting negotiations and trying to find a solution that meets “the demands” of Moscow.
In a previous wave of strikes against a series of targets in Ukraine on November 17, kyiv and Moscow had already accused each other of responsibility for the suffering of civilian populations. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky then denounced “a new Russian terrorist attack”, and the Kremlin replied that the hardships endured by civilians were attributable to kyiv’s refusal to negotiate.