Putin calls on Ukraine army to remove leadership in Kyiv
A claim that could fuel fears Moscow is creating pretexts for justifying civilian casualties.
MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday called on the Ukrainian army to overthrow the government whose leaders he described as “terrorists” and “a gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis”.
Putin also accused "Ukrainian nationalists" of deploying heavy weapons in residential areas of major cities to provoke the Russian military, a claim that could fuel fears Moscow is creating pretexts for justifying civilian casualties.
Addressing the Ukrainian military in a televised address, he urged them to "take power in your own hands."
"It seems like it will be easier for us to agree with you than this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis," he said, referring to leadership in Kyiv led by President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish.
Putin, who on Thursday ordered Russian troops to invade Ukraine, claimed that Ukrainian "nationalists" were preparing to deploy multiple rocket launchers to residential areas of Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv and the northeastern city of Kharkiv.
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Ukraine s leadership are "acting like terrorists all over the world: they are hiding behind people in the hope of then blaming Russia for civilian casualties".
"It is known for a fact that this is happening on the recommendation of foreign consultants, primarily American advisers," Putin said.
Putin and top Russian officials have said Moscow s troops are only targeting ultra-nationalists in Ukraine.
Putin also praised Russian troops saying they were acting in a "courageous and professional manner".
"They are successfully solving the most important task of ensuring the security of our people and our Fatherland," Putin said.