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Military operation to ‘demilitarize and denazify’ Ukraine, says Russia

A bridge across the river Teteriv near Kiev was destroyed by the armed forces of Ukraine in order to stop the advancing Russian military vehicles (Image courtesy: Twitter/@ArmedForcesUkr)

Russia today said that President Vladimir Putin decided to conduct a special military operation to "demilitarize and denazify" Ukraine so that, "freed from this oppression", Ukrainians themselves could freely determine their future.

"All these years, our Western colleagues have consistently defended the Ukrainian regime, turning a blind eye to war crimes against the civilian population, to the murders of women, children, the elderly, to the destruction of civilian infrastructure," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on Friday.

"They tacitly encouraged the rapid development of neo-Nazism and Russophobia, which ultimately plunged the country into tragedy," the minister added while delivering his opening remarks while holding first talks with his counterparts from Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republic. 

Putin had on February 21 recognised the two territories located in eastern Ukraine as "sovereign and independent states", signing agreements on friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance with them the very same day.

Next day, the treaties were ratified by the State Duma and the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and diplomatic relations were established between the countries.  

Moscow said that the decision was "a forced measure" caused by a sharp aggravation of the situation in the Donbass and it happened "through the fault of Ukraine", which for seven years "sabotaged" the Minsk agreements and actually withdrew from them.

"Throughout this period, the population of your republics was subjected to mockery, annual shelling by the Kiev regime, which openly embarked on the path of Russophobia and genocide. Former Prime Minister of Ukraine A P Yatsenyuk called the Donbass 'non-humans'. Quite recently, this baton was picked up by President Vladimir Zelensky," Lavrov said today during negotiations with Donetsk Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs S S Peresada and Lugansk Foreign Affairs Minister V N Deinego.

Reflecting on the current situation in the Donbass in light of the ongoing military campaign launched on Thursday, Lavrov emphasised that Russia could not remain indifferent to the direct appeals of help from the heads of new states for military assistance.

"The West completely sided with the Kiev regime in its efforts to sabotage and destroy the Minsk agreements. NATO and the European Union covered Kiev in the very last weeks, when he (Zelensky) finally set out to seize the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic by force, announcing that there was no alternative to joining NATO and began to threaten to acquire nuclear weapons," he commented.

The three Foreign Ministers today discussed measures to give impetus to the creation of a legal framework in all areas of cooperation in accordance with the provisions of the treaties of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that particular attention is being paid to the issue of opening the embassies of the two republics in Moscow and Russian diplomatic missions in Donetsk and Lugansk.

Meanwhile, the Ukraine government said today that its army is fighting back fierce attacks in Kyiv, Kherson, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions. 

The information department of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Secretariat (Parliament of Ukraine) published an appeal from members of the Parliament and leaders of Inter-Parliamentary friendship groups urging support for their country.

"Immediate and decisive action is necessary to save Ukraine and our people. We ask you to call on your government and head of state to provide massive defence assistance to Ukraine… Most importantly, military equipment in the field of anti-air defence, as well as secure communication means for the Ukrainian army," as many as six MPs urged in the letter.

Also Read: Left alone to defend itself, Ukraine now ready to hold talks with Russia on neutral status