Putin appears at large pro-war rally as Russian troops continue to attack Ukraine – Reuters News in France and abroad

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Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared at a massive rally in Moscow on Friday, applauding his troops as they continued to pound Ukrainian cities with shelling and missiles.

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“We know what we have to do, how to do it and at what cost. And we will absolutely accomplish all our plans,” Putin told the crowd gathered in and around Luzhniki Stadium. About 200,000 people attended, many waving Russian flags, according to Russian police and state media.

Russian President Vladimir Putin salutes during a concert marking the eighth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia, March 18, 2022.
(RIA Novosti Host Photo Agency/Ramil Sitdikov via REUTERS)

Putin congratulated his soldiers at the celebration marking the eighth anniversary of Russia’s capture of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. Such unity that we haven’t had for a long time,” he said.

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He called the February 24 invasion necessary to defend against the “genocide” of Russian-speakers in Ukraine – a claim emphatically rejected by the West.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a concert marking the eighth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, Russia March 18, 2022. The banner reads: ‘For Russia’.
(Sputnik/Sergey Guneev/Kremlin via Reuters)

According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, state television, which was broadcasting his speech, was briefly interrupted due to a technical problem.

The event took place in a football stadium used during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The slogan “For a world without Nazism” appeared on the stage where Putin spoke.

Ukrainian servicemen stand next to a damaged building in a residential area after shelling kyiv on March 18, 2022, as Russian troops attempt to encircle the Ukrainian capital as part of their slow-moving offensive.

Ukrainian servicemen stand next to a damaged building in a residential area after shelling kyiv on March 18, 2022, as Russian troops attempt to encircle the Ukrainian capital as part of their slow-moving offensive.
(Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Before the autocratic leader addressed the crowd, speakers praised him for fighting “Nazism” in Ukraine – a claim dismissed as false by many world leaders. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish. Zelensky previously noted that members of his family were killed during the Holocaust.

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Russian singer Oleg Gazmanov wowed the audience with a rendition of “Made in the USSR” with the opening line “Ukraine and Crimea, Belarus and Moldova, that’s my whole country.”

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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Putin appears at large pro-war rally as Russian troops continue to attack Ukraine – Reuters News in France and abroad

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