The President of Russia Vladimir Putin appeared at a huge flag-waving rally at a Moscow stadium and praised his nation’s troops in biblical terms Friday. They pressed their deadly attacks on Ukrainian cities with shelling & missiles.
Putin recalled Moscow’s forces of, “Shoulder to shoulder, they help and support each other.” He made the statement about this during a rare public appearance since the invasion began that made Russia an outcast among nations and triggered antiwar protest at home.
He added to cheers from the crowd, “We have not had unity like this for a long time.”
Moscow police have mentioned that more than 200,000 people were in and around the Luzhniki Stadium for the celebration marking the 8th anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, seized from Ukraine.
The event consists of patriotic songs, including a performance of “Made in the USSR,” with the opening lines “Ukraine and Crimea, Belarus and Moldova, it is all my country.”
Putin paraphrased the Bible to portray the war as just to say of Russia’s troops, “There is no greater love than devoting one’s soul for one’s friends.”
And he continued to demand his actions were required to prevent “genocide,” a claim flatly refused by leaders around the globe.
Putin spoke for about five minutes, standing on stage in a white turtleneck and a blue down jacket. Whereas, some people, including presenters at the event, were wearing T-shirts or jackets with a “Z” — a symbol seen on Russian tanks and other vehicles of the military in Ukraine & embraced by supporters of the war.
His quoting of the Bible & a Russian admiral of the 18th century reflected his increasing focus in recent years on history and religion as binding forces in Russia’s post-Soviet society.
Video feeds of the event showed a loudly cheering, flag-waving crowd that broke into chants of “Russia!”