Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has defended his country's strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure as six million people are left without power. File Photo by Russian FM Press Office / UPI | License Photo
Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday sought to justify Moscow's attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure as millions were left without power.
Lavrov said during a press conference that the targeted infrastructure is used "to pump up Ukraine with Western weapons for it to kill Russians."
"This infrastructure supports the combat capability of the Ukrainian armed forces and nationalist battalions," Lavrov said.
Ukrainian officials reported that Russian strikes have once again cut power to the recently liberated city of Kherson, shortly after power was restored to approximately 20% of customers in the wake of prior attacks.
Ukraine's state nuclear energy company, Energoatom, dismissed Yuriy Chernichuk, the deputy chief engineer of the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, one day after he was appointed by Russian forces to serve as director of the facility. Energoatom accused Chernichuk of collaboration and treason.
The standoff at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has caused international tension with officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency visiting the facility and raising concerns about a potentially dangerous escalation.
The Ukrainian government is advising residents to leave Kherson due to the risk of Russian shelling and the scarcity of basic necessities like electricity and water.
Andriy Herus, the head of Ukraine's committee on energy and housing, says winter conditions could hamper repairs to Ukraine's energy grid for up to six months.
Lavrov also went on to accuse the United States and NATO of "directly participating" in the war in support of Ukraine "not just by providing weapons but also by training personnel."
"You are training their military on your territory, on the territories of Britain, Germany, Italy and other countries," he said.
His comments came as the Ukrainian military reported that Russian forces have withdrawn from several towns on the south bank of the Dnieper River, which now forms a de-facto frontline between Ukrainian and Russian forces following the Russian retreat from Kherson city.
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has urged European nations to move forward with a ninth sanctions package in response to Russia's invasion.
"I call on my colleagues in the EU -- to put aside any doubts, or, as is fashionable to say 'fatigue,' and start to quickly complete the ninth sanctions package," Kubela said in an online statement on Nov. 22.