Russia was forced to launch attacks against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in retaliation for similar attacks by Kiev, Kremlin strongman Vladimir Putin claimed Thursday.

“Unfortunately, we recently received a barrage of attacks on our energy infrastructure and we were obliged to respond,” Putin reportedly told Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko during their meeting in Moscow, according to Russian news agencies.

Putin also claimed that these attacks were launched as part of the campaign to “demilitarize” Ukraine, as they indirectly affected the Ukrainian military industry.

Russian forces, Putin said, avoided such strikes during the winter “for humanitarian reasons.” “We didn’t want to leave hospitals and other social structures without electricity,” he said.

The Russian president described as “nonsense” the claims of Kiev’s Western allies that Moscow is planning to attack another European country. “This is nonsense… They are trying to justify their spending on the war in Ukraine,” he noted.

Referring to the international summit on Ukraine to be hosted in June in Switzerland, Putin stressed that any initiative for peace talks without the participation of Russia is doomed to failure. Putin and Lukashenko agreed that the best starting point for dialogue on Ukraine would be consultations similar to those held in Turkey in 2022, during the first weeks of the war.