Vladimir Putin celebrates Crimea annexation with rally as Russia continues onslaught of Ukraine

Tens of hundreds of individuals waved the Russian flag on the nationwide stadium as they took half in celebrations commemorating the eighth 12 months of Russia’s annexation of Crimea — which is deemed unlawful by the Ukrainian authorities and never acknowledged within the West.

Speaking from a stage in entrance of a banner that learn, “For a world without Nazism,” Putin mentioned Russia “will definitely implement all our plans” in Ukraine.

“To spare people from this suffering, from this genocide — this is the main reason, motive and purpose of the military operation that we launched in the Donbas [an eastern Ukrainian region] and Ukraine,” he mentioned.

Russian state TV later replayed Putin’s full speech with out issues, however the Kremlin refused to verify or deny if the occasion was dwell or pre-recorded.

Putin insisted that nationwide unity was the strongest in a very long time, even as many individuals flee Russia or protest towards battle within the streets, and as the nation is more and more remoted on the worldwide stage.

“The best proof is the way our boys are fighting in this operation: shoulder to shoulder, supporting each other, and if need be, protecting each other like brothers, shielding one another with their bodies on the battlefield. We haven’t had this unity for a long time,” Putin instructed the group.

State staff have been instructed by authorities to attend the celebrations. In an invite given out to lecturers in a single of Moscow’s state colleges and obtained by CNN, attendees have been instructed they might have Russian flags and may put white “Z” marks on their clothes, a pro-war image seen daubed on the nation’s army automobiles in Ukraine.

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But not everybody was blissful to go. Ekaterina, 26, an elementary college instructor on the college, instructed CNN that she and her colleagues have been requested by their college administration to attend the live performance the morning earlier than. She requested solely to be recognized by her first identify.

Putin's chilling warning to Russian 'traitors' and 'scum' is a sign things aren't going to plan

“I refused to go because this goes against my moral principles and I told them that it is not part of my work contract to attend such events. However, I also have a friend from another school who refused to go and was fired,” Ekaterina instructed CNN.

CNN couldn’t independently confirm that her good friend was fired.

The hour-and-a-half occasion featured dwell music and speeches from high-profile supporters, together with RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan and Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

Presenters and plenty of within the crowd wore pins on their garments with an orange and black letter Z. The hosts mentioned “well done” when the viewers clapped, and Russian pop stars and singers together with Polina Gagarina sang tunes on the occasion.

Lyube, believed to be Putin’s favourite Russian band, carried out patriotic songs about honor, battle and sacrifice.

Presenters, who accused the West of aggression in the direction of Russia, additionally launched Russian Olympic athletes like Dina Averina on stage whereas the group chanted “Russia, Russia.”

State workers were told by authorities to attend the celebrations.

The rally comes at a tense second for Russia, as its army struggles to seize key cities like Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and Western officers estimates the nation’s troop losses are within the hundreds.

US and Western intelligence officers have additionally noticed that Russia is having problem changing its forces, which is having a big influence on troop morale, senior NATO officers mentioned on Wednesday.

“It becomes more evident every day that Putin gravely miscalculated,” a senior NATO intelligence official instructed reporters on the alliance’s headquarters on Wednesday night time, talking on the situation of anonymity to reveal delicate assessments. “Russia continues to face difficulties replacing its combat losses, and increasingly seeks to leverage irregular forces, including Russian private military corporations and Syrian fighters.”

But none of that pessimism was evident in Putin’s speech on Friday. “It so happened that the beginning of the operation … quite by chance coincided with the birthday of one of our outstanding military leaders [and] canonized saints, Fyodor Ushakov, who in his entire brilliant military career did not lose a single battle,” he instructed the group.

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“He once said that these thunderstorms will go to the glory of Russia. So it was then, so it is today, and so it will always be!”


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