Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that the Ukrainian government cutting off gas supplies to the pro-Russian separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk "smells of genocide."
Putin, after meeting with his Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades, condemned the cutting off of gas deliveries to the hunger-struck regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, where the OSCE has declared a "humanitarian catastrophe."
"What do you call that? It already smells of genocide," the Russian president said.
The Kremlin's chief executive pointed out that, in addition to the separatist militias operating in the rebel territories, there are also children, women and elderly living in them who have nothing to do with the conflict.
Putin added that the Minsk peace accords, signed on February 12, force Ukrainian authorities to ensure energy delivery to the breakaway territories.
The Russian president confirmed that the Russian state gas company Gazprom will paralyze its gas supplies to Ukraine in three days if Kiev does not pay in advance for its planned March consumption.