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Putin Tells Scholz More Ukraine Energy Strikes 'Inevitable'

Ukraine is bracing for further stepped-up Russian airstrikes targeting its energy infrastructure, with President Vladimir Putin on Friday confirming the next wave is imminent, telling his German counterpart Olaf Scholz that new attacks are "inevitable" due to the West's "destructive" policies.

"It was noted that the Russian Armed Forces had long refrained from precision missile strikes against certain targets on the territory of Ukraine," a Kremlin readout of the telephone call begins. "But now such measures have become a forced and inevitable response to Kyiv's provocative attacks on Russia's civilian infrastructure."

The statement emphasizes NATO's weapons pipeline into Kiev: "Attention was drawn to the destructive line of Western states, including Germany, that are pumping the Kyiv regime with weapons, and are training the Ukrainian military."

Putin reminded Scholz of the West's deep "political and financial support" which has made the potential for any meaningful ceasefire negotiations impossible, from Moscow's perspective. He said constant and largescale military support from allies "leads to the fact that Kyiv completely rejects the idea of any negotiations."

Meanwhile, there appears to be external verification that the next significant aerial attack on Ukraine is coming soon, with Sky News Australia citing military analysts who say new satellite images show Russia is planning an 'imminent' large scale missile strike on Ukraine.

According to details in the report:

Satellite images released by US-based Maxar Technologies show a build-up of two dozen Tu-95 and Tu-160 long-range bombers at Engels-2 air base in Saratov Oblast, 700km from the Russia-Ukrainian border. 

Pictured beside the aircraft are ammunition boxes, which experts say are likely to contain Kh-55 and Kh-101 cruise missiles, with the significant increase in activity suggesting a looming attack. 

Additionally, Der Spiegel quotes military analyst Arda Mevluto?lu as follows: "The unusually high number of bombers on the tarmac is an indication of an increase in operations, if not an imminent large-scale attack."

Despite Ukrainian utility and emergency crews continuing to scramble, it remains that an estimated 40% of the entire national energy infrastructure remains degraded or destroyed. The New York Times reported this week, "Ukrainian officials said that Russian attacks had disabled the power grid in the southern city of Kherson and six million people across the country were still without power after previous assaults."

Temperatures have also remained below freezing, and are expected to dip further into the frigid winter months. Russia has defended its attacks on the energy grid as "legitimate", while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a meeting of NATO ministers in Bucharest, Romania condemned the "barbaric" Russian actions. 


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