On Ukraine assault, Vladimir Putin says had no choice but to stop Donbas 'genocide'

Russia sent thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24 in what it called a special operation to degrade its southern neighbour's military capabilities and root out people it called dangerous nationalists.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in Moscow. (AP file)
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting in Moscow. (AP file)
Updated on Apr 12, 2022 03:12 PM IST
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By | Written by Aniruddha Dhar, New Delhi

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he had no other choice but to launch a military operation to protect his country and that a clash with Ukraine's anti-Russian forces had been inevitable, adding that “we could no longer tolerate 'genocide' in Donbas”.  He said Moscow's military operation in Ukraine would undoubtedly achieve what he said were its "noble" objectives.

Speaking at an awards ceremony at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in the Russian Far East, Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies that his forces carrying out Moscow's military campaign in Ukraine were acting bravely and efficiently and using the most modern weapons.

Putin said the main objective of Moscow's military operation in Ukraine was to save people in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.

"On the one hand, we are helping and saving people, and on the other, we are simply taking measures to ensure the security of Russia itself," Putin said. "It's clear that we didn't have a choice. It was the right decision."

Pentagon officials said Russian forces are reinforcing around the Donbas region, notably near the town of Izyum, but have not yet launched a full offensive. Ukraine's defence ministry said that Russian preparations are almost over and that it believes a major assault will happen soon.

Also Read | Ukraine war day 48 | Over 10,000 killed in Mariupol, says official: 10 points

Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on February 24 in what it called a special operation to degrade its southern neighbour's military capabilities and root out people it called dangerous nationalists.

Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.

Earlier in the day, Putin flew into Russia's far east Amur region for talks with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko expected to focus on Ukraine and Russian-Belarusian integration.

Meanwhile, an official from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky's office said his country's forces are "surrounded and blocked" in Mariupol as Russian forces push to take the city, Myhaylo Podolyak.

The Ukrainian army insisted that "the defence of Mariupol continues". Zelensky said he believes "tens of thousands" of people in the city have been killed.

Reports suggest civilians were fleeing from areas of eastern Ukraine ahead of an anticipated Russian offensive, while Kyiv said it was checking reports that Russian forces had used chemical weapons in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

The battle for Mariupol was reaching a decisive phase, with Ukrainian marines holed up in the Azovstal industrial district.

(With inputs from agencies)

 

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