Russia-Ukraine war: Amid the relentless war between Russia and Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin bolstered his claims about triumphing in the ongoing battle. The latest statement from the Russian President came on the same day when the war-torn nation lost its interior minister and other senior officials in a fatal helicopter crash.
Putin, who was addressing a meeting with veterans on Wednesday, asserted that Moscow had tried its best to refrain its soldiers from raging an "operation" against its neighbouring nation but it left with no other option. Putin said he had tried to negotiate a peaceful settlement before sending in troops, but “we were just duped and cheated”.
Moscow had long sought to negotiate with Ukraine
He claimed that Moscow’s actions in Ukraine were intended to stop a “war” that had been raging in eastern Ukraine for many years. According to Putin, Moscow had long sought to negotiate with its neighbouring nation on the issue of Donbas for the past eight years. "Large-scale combat operations involving heavy weapons, artillery, tanks and aircraft haven’t stopped in Donbas since 2014," The Guardian quoted Putin as saying during the meeting.
"All that we are doing today, as part of the special military operation, is an attempt to stop this war. This is the meaning of our operation – protecting people who live on those territories," he added.
Putin explains his decision to send troops into Ukraine
Putin has explained his decision to send troops into Ukraine on February 24 as the need to protect Russian speakers and conduct “demilitarization” and “denazification” of Ukraine to prevent it from posing a threat to Russia — claims rejected by Ukraine and its Western allies as a cover for an unprovoked act of aggression. Putin attended the meeting with veterans during Wednesday's visit to St. Petersburg to mark the 80th anniversary of the Red Army breaking the Nazi siege of the city on January 18, 1943.
The siege of the city that was then called Leningrad lasted nearly 900 days and was only fully lifted in January 1944, marking one of the bloodiest pages of World War II.
About 1 million people died in Leningrad during the siege, most of them from starvation. Putin on Wednesday laid a wreath at the city's Piskaryov memorial cemetery where 420,000 civilian victims of the siege and 70,000 Soviet soldiers were buried. He also put flowers in a section where his brother, who died as a child during the siege, was buried in a mass grave.
(With inputs from AP)
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