Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country is not fighting against the people of Ukraine, but instead is facing down their leadership and outside forces who are using the country as a proxy.
He claimed that Ukrainian soldiers are being used as cannon fodder by what he called the "neo-Nazi regime" in Kiev.
Speaking to the mothers of Russian servicemen on Friday, the president said that those who supply Ukraine with weapons and fund the Kiev government have no consideration for Ukraine’s losses.
Meanwhile, those who do not fall in line with orders are executed on the spot right in front of their comrades, Putin insisted, citing information supplied to him by primary sources.
“Our boys have seen this firsthand. The bodies of the executed are just left to lie there. Just recently there was another case – five people were shot right in front of the lineup, those who refused to go or left their positions,” the president said. He appeared to be referring to an incident reported by Russia’s Defense Ministry last week, in which Kiev allegedly sent nationalist militants into the village of Belogorovka to “put things in order” and intimidate Ukrainian servicemen, a number of whom had refused to follow orders and were shot.
“There is a completely different moral atmosphere [in Kiev’s forces],” Putin noted, adding that this once again confirmed that “we are dealing with a neo-Nazi regime, without any exaggerations.”
The president said that in light of such a situation, Moscow is further reassured it is doing the right thing by protecting the people who live in the territories that have recently joined the Russian Federation.
Last month, Russia incorporated the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, as well as the former Ukrainian regions of Kherson and Zaporozhye, after these territories held referendums on joining Russia.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.