Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, stated on Wednesday that Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine aimed to end a protracted “war” in the country’s east.
During a meeting with veterans, Putin said Moscow had long wanted to negotiate a resolution to the crisis in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, which is the country’s industrial hub. Since 2014, separatists supported by Russia have been fighting Ukrainian forces there.
Since 2014, there have been ongoing large-scale combat operations in Donbas, including heavy weapons, artillery, tanks, and planes, according to Putin. “We are making every effort to halt this war with what we are doing today as part of the special military operation. Protecting the residents of those territories is the purpose of our activities.
Italian activist arrested in a West Bank raid is deported by Israel
On Wednesday, Putin reiterated that before sending in soldiers, Russia had attempted to negotiate a peaceful solution, but “we were absolutely deceived and cheated.”
He referred to the eastern part of Ukraine as Russia’s “historic regions,” saying that following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moscow had to accept their loss but take action to preserve Russian speakers there.
Putin cited the need to protect Russian speakers and to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine to stop it from posing a threat to Russia as his justification for sending troops into Ukraine on February 24. Ukraine and its Western allies rejected these arguments as a pretext for an unprovoked act of aggression.
On Wednesday, when he was in St. Petersburg to commemorate the eight decades since the Red Army broke the Nazi siege of the city on January 18, 1943, Putin held a meeting with veterans.
About 1 million people died in Leningrad during the siege, most of them from starvation. The siege of the city, then known as Leningrad, lasted about 900 days and was only fully relieved in January 1944, marking one of the darkest episodes of World War II.
At the city’s Piskaryov memorial cemetery, where 70,000 Soviet soldiers and 420,000 civilians who died during the siege are interred, Putin laid a wreath on Wednesday. Additionally, he placed flowers on his brother’s grave, buried there after failing as a child during the siege.