“What occurred in Belgorod is a terrorist act,” Putin advised wounded Russian troopers sitting close to him in hospital pyjamas and sanitary masks.
“There isn’t any different method to name it.”
He accused Ukrainian forces of concentrating on “proper within the metropolis centre, the place individuals have been strolling round, earlier than New 12 months’s Eve” and alleged they’d “purposefully hit the civilian inhabitants”.
Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov mentioned on Monday that the dying toll had risen to 25, saying medics have been unable to avoid wasting a toddler who was significantly injured within the assault.
“At this time within the native youngsters’s hospital a four-year-old woman, who was in a severe situation with extreme accidents to the chest and inside organs, died,” Gladkov mentioned.
Her dying introduced the variety of youngster victims of the assault to 5.
“That is an irreparable loss for all of us,” Gladkov mentioned.
He mentioned a complete of 109 individuals have been wounded, 45 of whom are nonetheless in medical amenities.
Talking in regards to the state of affairs on the battlefield, Putin mentioned he believed the “strategic initiative” within the drawn-out battle in Ukraine was on the Russian aspect.
“In any case, that’s how I’m being briefed,” he mentioned.
He additionally claimed Moscow wished to finish the battle – which has dragged on for nearly two years – “as rapidly as doable” however “solely on our phrases”, in response to Russia’s state-run TASS information company.