In a recent phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Russian President Vladimir Putin justified Moscow’s relentless airstrikes on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure as “forced and inevitable” due to Ukraine’s attacks on Russian targets. Putin also blamed Western nations’ support of Ukraine for prolonging the war, which Russia started.
This call was Putin’s first with a Group-of-Seven leader since Russia suffered numerous battlefield defeats and initiated a wave of attacks on Ukrainian energy infrastructure using missiles and self-detonating drones. These attacks have cut off electricity, heat, and water service in many parts of Ukraine, raising the risk of a humanitarian disaster this winter. In response, Scholz condemned the Russian airstrikes and emphasized Germany’s determination to support Ukraine in ensuring its defense capability against Russian aggression. The Kremlin has ruled out giving up any territory that Russia illegally claims to have annexed.
The European Union has proposed creating a tribunal on alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine, to which Putin has attempted to deflect blame by accusing Ukraine of committing “more and more bloody crimes against the civilian population.” In light of these developments, it remains to be seen whether or not Russian and Western leaders will come to the negotiating table and work towards finding a resolution to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.