Russian President Vladimir Putin made a special appearance on Friday to explain the reasoning behind Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
Russian citizens packed into Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Friday to show support for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, waving flags and Pro-Russian slogans. The pep rally, which also incidentally marked the eighth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, featured a guest appearances by Moscow’s mayor Sergei Sobyanin, various Russian singers, as well as the president himself.
Officials reported that there were about 200,000 people in attendance, mostly comprised of pro-Russian patriots, state workers, and students. The state employees were allegedly instructed to take part in the rally, and were bussed to the soccer stadium. Ahead of the event, post-secondary students were told they would receive extra credit in school if they attended the rally, and were instructed to bring Russian flags and wear clothing depicting the “Z” symbol in support of the army.
“We know what we need to do, how to do it and at what cost. And we will absolutely accomplish all of our plans,” Putin said during his speech on a separate stage at the soccer stadium, against a background of banners saying “For a world without Nazism,” and “For Russia.” Putin explained that Russia’s military operation in Ukraine was imperative to defend Russian-speaking people from genocide committed by Ukraine alongside the support of the US.
“Shoulder to shoulder, they help each other, support each other and when needed they shield each other from bullets with their bodies like brothers. Such unity we have not had for a long time,” Putin continued, praising the military’s special operation in Ukraine, and the subsequent unity of Russian citizens.
However, before Putin could finish his speech, state television— which was broadcasting the live event— cut away from the stage and started showing pre-recorded footage of pro-Russian songs, before reverting back to the president. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov later confirmed the sudden cut-away from Putin’s speech was the result of a technical fault on a server.
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