Russian troops rain lethal fire on Ukrainian cities - GulfToday

Russian troops rain lethal fire on Ukrainian cities


Apartments damaged by shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine. AP

Gulf Today Report

As Russian troops rained lethal fire on Ukrainian cities, Vladimir Putin appeared at a huge flag-waving rally to lavish praise on his Russian forces, while Ukrainian’s president accused the Kremlin of deliberately creating "a humanitarian catastrophe.”

Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a concert in Moscow, Russia, on Friday. Reuters

Russia’s president addressed the packed Moscow stadium on Friday, saying the Kremlin’s troops had fought "shoulder to shoulder” and supported each other. "We have not had unity like this for a long time,” he told the cheering crowd.


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Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday called for meaningful peace and security talks with Moscow, saying this was Russia's only chance to limit the damage from its mistakes in the wake of its invasion.

"The time has come for a meeting, it is time to talk," he said in a video address released in the early hours of Saturday in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, early on Saturday. AP

The UN migration agency says the fighting has displaced nearly 6.5 million people inside Ukraine, on top of the 3.2 million refugees who have already fled the country. Ukraine says thousands have been killed.

The invasion has touched off a burst of antiwar protests inside Russia, and the rally was surrounded by suspicions it was a Kremlin-manufactured display of patriotism. The event happened as Russia has faced heavier-than-expected losses on the battlefield and increasingly authoritarian rule at home.

Zelensky said Russian forces are blockading the largest cities with the goal of creating such miserable conditions that Ukrainians will cooperate. He said the Russians are preventing supplies from reaching surrounded cities in central and southeastern Ukraine.

An elderly woman is assisted while crossing the Irpin river, while fleeing the town of Irpin, Ukraine. AP

"This is a totally deliberate tactic,” Zelensky said in his nighttime video address to the nation, which was recorded outside in Kyiv, with the presidential office behind him. He again urged Putin to meet with him directly.

"It’s time to meet, time to speak,” Zelensky said. "I want to be heard by everyone, especially in Moscow.”

Kyiv continued to take heavy fire Friday, and Russian forces pounded an aircraft repair installation on the outskirts of Lviv, close to the Polish border. Ukrainian officials said late Friday that the besieged southern port city of Mariupol lost its access to the Azov Sea, and Russian forces were still trying to storm the city. It was unclear whether they had seized it.

Police said more than 200,000 people were in and around the Luzhniki stadium for the Moscow event, which included patriotic songs such as "Made in the USSR.,” with the opening lines "Ukraine and Crimea, Belarus and Moldova, it’s all my country.”

Several Telegram channels critical of the Kremlin reported that students and employees of state institutions in a number of regions were ordered by their superiors to attend rallies and concerts marking the eighth anniversary of Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, which was seized from Ukraine. Those reports could not be independently verified.

Relatives attend a funeral ceremony for four of the Ukrainian military servicemen in Yavoriv, Lviv, Ukraine. AP

Seeking to portray the war as just, Putin paraphrased the Bible to say of Russia's troops: "There is no greater love than giving up one’s soul for one’s friends.”

Taking to the stage where a sign read "For a world without Nazism,” he railed against his foes in Ukraine with a baseless claim that they are "neo-Nazis.” Putin continued to insist his actions were necessary to prevent "genocide" – an idea flatly rejected by leaders around the globe.

Video feeds of the event cut out at times but showed a loudly cheering crowd that broke into chants of "Russia!”

Putin’s appearance marked a change from his relative isolation of recent weeks, when he has been shown meeting with world leaders and his staff either at extraordinarily long tables or via videoconference.




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