Speaking on Wednesday, the Russian president seemed to overlook that Moscow actually invaded Ukraine almost two years ago, and has been shelling it repeatedly since.
He said: “One can still ponder why they have been shelling peaceful cities and towns.
“There are several objectives, which are to divert the attention of their population and sponsors from the failures of the so-called counteroffensive and to show that they can to do something, to provoke us into tit-for-tat actions in order to hit civilian and peaceful targets on the territory of Ukraine.”
Putin then suggested Russia was avoiding civilian areas in its own missile strikes on Ukraine.
He said: “What do we do? We use long-range precision weapons to hit infrastructure – first and foremost, military infrastructure, as well as the military industry.”
The UN also said that the Russian military exposed Ukrainian civilians to unnecessary and disproportionate harm through its indiscriminate attacks, and use of weapons with wide-area impacts.
The war’s frontline also stretches across south-east Ukraine, meaning millions have been displaced in the country.
But, according to Putin, Ukrainians “want to provoke us into retaliating” by attacking Russian-controlled land.
He continued: “You can imagine why they are doing this. Although it is undoubtedly a crime. A bloody crime.”
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has actually had an arrest warrant out for Putin himself and his children’s commissioner since March 2023, linked to the forced deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia.
The court is not recognised in Russia, but the warrants do mean that the president cannot travel to any country which is a signatory to the ICC.
The International Court of Justice will also be delivering its verdict on Ukraine’s accusations that Russia broke international law by invading its neighbour in February 2022.
Putin has consistently presented the war in Ukraine – which he usually calls the “special military operation” – as a defensive mission against Nato’s expansion to the east.
He has described the war in Ukraine as a “tragedy”, too.
Ukraine has actually suggested all hostilities could end if only Russia withdrew all of its troops from Ukrainian land – but Moscow has refused, saying it is “impossible”for Russia to give up the areas it has seized.