Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday warned that Russia could escalate its war in Ukraine in response to “terrorist” attacks against civilian infrastructure inside Russian territory.
Putin has framed his invasion as a limited “special military operation” that could be upgraded into a full-scale war. His government recently rejected calls to mobilize for war, but Putin signaled that there could be some sort of escalation.
“Indeed, we were quite restrained in our response, but that will not last forever,” the Russian leader said at a press conference.
“Recently, Russian Armed Forces delivered a couple of sensitive blows in that area,” Putin added, referring to Russian strikes on Ukrainian power infrastructure that came after Kyiv’s Kharkiv counteroffensive. “If the situation continues like that, our response will be more impactful. Terrorist attacks are a serious matter.”
Putin accused Ukraine of attempting to attack nuclear power plants inside Russia. “We even see attempts at perpetrating terrorist attacks in the Russian Federation, including — I am not sure if this was made public — attempts to carry out terrorist attacks near our nuclear facilities, nuclear power plants in the Russian Federation,” he said.
The Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear power Plant inside Ukraine has been the site of frequent shelling, but Putin’s comments were the first time Russia accused Ukrainian forces of attacking a nuclear plant in Russian territory.
Throughout the war, there have been a series of attacks inside Russia near the Ukrainian border, including operations against oil facilities. On Saturday, Ukrainian shelling was reported in Russia’s Belgorod region. Local authorities said one person was killed and two were wounded.