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Putin appears at big rally as troops press attack in Ukraine – Press Telegram

By CARA ANNA

Vladimir Putin appeared on Friday in a large demonstration where the flag in a crowded stadium in Moscow and praised his fighting troops in Ukraine, three weeks after the invasion that caused heavier-than-expected Russian losses on the battlefield and an increasingly authoritarian government in Ukraine. home.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Russian delegation in diplomatic talks with Ukraine said that the parties have reduced their differences. The Ukrainian side said its position remained unchanged.

The Moscow rally was surrounded by suspicions that it was a display of patriotism fabricated by the Kremlin. Several Telegram channels criticizing the Kremlin have reported that their superiors have ordered students and employees of state institutions in various regions to attend rallies and concerts marking the anniversary. These reports could not be independently verified.

Elsewhere, Russian troops continued to rain lethal fire on Ukrainian cities, including the capital, Kiev, and struck an aircraft repair facility on the outskirts of Lviv, near the Polish border.

“Shoulder to shoulder, they help and support each other,” the Russian president said of Kremlin forces in a rare public appearance since the start of the war. “We haven’t had a unit like this in a long time,” he added amid applause from the audience.

The rally was held to commemorate the eighth anniversary of the annexation of Crimea by Moscow, which was seized from Ukraine. Moscow police said more than 200,000 people were in and around Luzhniki Stadium. The event included patriotic songs, including a rendition of “Made in the USSR,” with the opening lines “Ukraine and Crimea, Belarus and Moldova, it’s all my country.”

Seeking to portray war as just, Putin paraphrased the Bible to say of Russian troops, “There is no greater love than to give up one’s soul for one’s friends.”

Going up to the stage where a sign read “For a world without Nazism”, he criticized his enemies in Ukraine with an unfounded claim that they are “neo-Nazis”. Putin continued to insist that his actions were necessary to prevent “genocide”, an idea strongly rejected by leaders around the world.

Event video footage was cut short at times, but showed a crowd of applause that erupted in chants of “Russia!”

Putin’s appearance marked a change from his relative isolation in recent weeks, when he was shown meeting with world leaders and his staff either at extraordinarily long tables or by video conference.

In the wake of the invasion, the Kremlin has stricterly cracked down on dissent and the flow of information, arresting thousands of anti-war protesters, banning sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and imposing harsh prison sentences on what are believed to be false reports of the invasion. war, which Moscow refers to as a “special military operation.”

The OVD-Info rights group overseeing the political arrests reported that at least seven independent journalists had been detained before or while covering the anniversary events in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Standing on stage with a white collar and a blue down jacket, Putin spoke for about five minutes. Some people, including the presenters of the event, wore T-shirts or jackets with a “Z”, a symbol seen on Russian tanks and other military vehicles in Ukraine and hugged by supporters of the war.

Putin’s quote from the Bible and an 18th-century Russian admiral reflected his growing focus in recent years on history and religion as binding forces in Russia’s post-Soviet society. His brand of his enemies as Nazis evoked what many Russians consider the best time of their country, the defense of the homeland of Germany during World War II.

The rally came when Vladimir Medinsky, who led Russian negotiators in several rounds of talks with Ukraine, said the parties had reached an agreement on the issue of Ukraine abandoning its candidacy to join NATO and adopt a neutral status.

“That is the issue in which the parties have approached their positions to the maximum,” Medinsky said in statements broadcast by the Russian media. He added that the parties are now “half” in matters relating to the demilitarization of Ukraine.

Mikhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, described the Russian assessment as intended to “provoke tension in the media”. He tweeted: “Our positions do not change. Ceasefire, withdrawal of troops and strong security guarantees with concrete formulas.

At other events, U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke for nearly two hours in a U.S. attempt to dissuade Beijing from providing military or economic assistance for the Russian invasion.

Earlier on Friday, a person was reported killed in a missile attack near Lviv. Satellite photos show that the attack destroyed a repair hangar and appeared to damage two other buildings. Ukraine said it shot down two of the six missiles in the volley, which came from the Black Sea.

The early morning attack was the closest strike so far to the center of Lviv, which has become a crossroads for people fleeing other parts of Ukraine and for others entering to deliver aid or join the struggle. The war increased the city’s population by about 200,000.

Zelenskyy boasted that Ukraine’s defenses proved to be much stronger than expected, and Russia “did not know what we had to defend or how we were preparing to face the blow.”

But British Defense Intelligence Chief Lieutenant General Jim Hockenhull warned that after failing to take major Ukrainian cities, Russian forces are switching to a “attrition strategy” that will involve “reckless and indiscriminate use of the power of fire “, which will lead to an increase in civilian casualties. and a worsening humanitarian crisis.

In cities after cities around Ukraine, hospitals, schools and buildings where people were looking for security were attacked. Lifeguards continued to search for survivors in the ruins of a theater used as a shelter when it was detonated by a Russian airstrike in the besieged southern city of Mariupol on Wednesday.

Ludmyla Denisova, Human Rights Commissioner of the Ukrainian Parliament, said at least 130 people survived the theater bombing.

“But according to our data, there are still more than 1,300 people in these basements, in this anti-aircraft shelter,” Denisova told Ukrainian television. “We pray for everyone to be alive, but so far there is no information about them.”

Maxar Technologies’ satellite images on Friday showed a long line of cars coming out of Mariupol as people tried to evacuate, as well as the devastation of homes, apartment buildings and shops.

Early morning bombings also hit a residential building in the Podil district of Kiev, killing at least one person, according to emergency services, which said 98 people had been evacuated from the building. Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko said 19 were injured in the bombing.

Ukrainian officials say a firefighter was killed when Russian forces bombed an area where firefighters were trying to put out a fire in the village of Nataevka in the Zaporizhzhia region.

Two others died when the attacks hit residential and administrative buildings in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, according to regional governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.

Major General Oleksandr Pavlyuk, who is leading the region’s defense around the capital of Ukraine, said his forces are well positioned to defend the city and promised: “We will never give up. We will fight to the end. Until the last sigh and even the last bullet “.

The fighting has forced nearly 3.3 million people to flee Ukraine, while another 6.5 million have fled their homes to other parts of the country, according to the UN.

The death toll is still unclear, although thousands of civilians and soldiers on both sides are believed to have died. World leaders have demanded that Russia be investigated for possible war crimes for its attacks on civilians.

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Associated Press writer Yuras Karmanau in Lviv, Ukraine, and other AP journalists from around the world contributed to this report.

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Follow AP war coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Putin appears at big rally as troops press attack in Ukraine – Press Telegram Source link Putin appears at big rally as troops press attack in Ukraine – Press Telegram

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