Moscow says West is ‘directly involved’ in Ukraine conflict

France backs EU plans to create court to prosecute Russia’s alleged war crimes

Moscow accused the West of being “directly involved” in the conflict in Ukraine and defended the missile attacks that have crippled its power grid, as France backed European Union plans to create a court to prosecute Russia’s alleged war crimes against its neighbour.

State energy firm Ukrenergo said electricity suppliers could meet 73 per cent of the embattled country’s needs on Thursday, hours after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said some six million people were still without power after several waves of Russian missile strikes destroyed more than 30 per cent of the national grid.

Kherson governor Yaroslav Yanushevich said Russian shelling knocked out electricity supplies in the recently liberated regional capital early on Thursday, after engineers restored power to about 65 per cent of the southeastern city, which was occupied for nine months.

Western states have condemned Russia’s repeated attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure and some have described them as a war crime, amid fears of a possible humanitarian crisis during winter months when freezing temperatures are the norm.


“The infrastructure now under attack is crucial to the combat potential of Ukraine’s armed forces and nationalist battalions,” Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday.

“We disable energy facilities that allow you (the West) to pump Ukraine with deadly weapons to kill Russians, so don’t say that the United States and Nato are not involved in this war. You are directly involved not only by supplying weapons, but also by training military personnel,” he added.

“In addition to training on their territory, hundreds of western instructors are working directly on the ground, showing Ukrainians how to shoot from the weapons supplied.”

Mr Lavrov also said it was “impossible to discuss strategic stability” with the United States during a war in Ukraine which, he claimed, was being fuelled by the West to weaken and even destroy Russia.

Nato states and their allies say they are helping Ukraine fight a just, defensive war to protect its population from the Kremlin invasion and retake areas in the east and south of Ukraine which Russia has occupied and claims to have made part of its sovereign territory.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and millions displaced since Russia launched all-out war on its neighbour in February, and the European Union announced plans this week to create a United Nations-backed court to try Russia for the crime of aggression.

“For France, the fight against impunity for crimes committed in Ukraine following the Russian aggression is a priority,” the French foreign ministry said on Thursday.

“We have begun working with our European and Ukrainian partners on the proposal to establish a special tribunal on Russia’s crime of aggression against Ukraine ... The aim is to obtain the broadest possible consensus on this project among members of the international community.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said any “attempts to establish some kind of tribunal will have no legitimacy, will not be accepted by us and we will condemn them.”

As heavy fighting continued in eastern and southeastern Ukraine, particularly around the severely damaged city of Bakhmut in Donetsk region, Kyiv and Moscow said they had freed 50 of each other’s troops in the latest exchange of captured soldiers.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe