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President Putin asks Ukrainian army to overthrow Zelenskyy

Putin also accused "Ukrainian nationalists" of deploying heavy weapons in residential areas of major cities to provoke the Russian military. I

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Moscow: 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. In a televised address, he urged the Ukrainian military to “take power in your own hands.”

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“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 the leadership in Kyiv under President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish.

Putin, who on Thursday ordered Russian troops to invade Ukraine, claimed that Ukrainian “nationalists” were preparing to deploy multiple rocket launchers in residential areas of Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv and the northeastern city of Kharkiv. Ukraine’s leadership are “acting like terrorists all over the world: they are hiding behind people in the hope of them 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. Separately, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the alleged deployment: “We consider the situation to be extremely dangerous.”

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. On a conference call to reporters, Peskov accused the Ukrainian authorities of refusing to hold talks with Russians in Belarus, as was previously suggested by Moscow. “After a brief pause Ukrainians said they now want to go to Warsaw,” Peskov said.

“And now they have gone incommunicado.” During a telephone call with Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko offered to arrange negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv in Minsk, but Kyiv first said it wished to hold talks in Poland and then suspended all contacts, Russian presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said.

“Putin immediately got in touch with President Lukashenko and agreed with him that the Belarusian side and president would do their best to arrange for the delegation’s arrival, to guarantee their security, which is very important now, and provide conditions for actually holding these negotiations,” Peskov told journalists on Friday.

On Putin’s orders, Russia immediately put together a delegation of representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry, Foreign Ministry, and Presidential Executive Office, he said.

“This information was communicated to the Ukrainians. After a brief pause, the Ukrainians said they reviewed the Minsk idea and now wanted to go to Warsaw, after which they suspended the contacts and took a pause. And this pause has been lasting for quite long now,” Peskov said.

“Unfortunately, while this pause is lingering, nationalistic elements are deploying multiple rocket launchers in residential neighborhoods in major [Ukrainian] cities, including Kyiv. We view this situation as extremely dangerous. And we wanted to tell you about this absolutely openly,” he said.

In a related development, in a special military operation, the Russian Armed Forces said they had destroyed 118 military facilities of the military infrastructure of Ukraine. Among them: 11 military airfields, 13 command posts and communication centres of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, 14 S-300 and Osa anti-aircraft missile systems, 36 radar stations. Shot down: 5 combat aircraft, 1 helicopter, 5 unmanned aerial vehicles. 18 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 7 multiple rocket launchers, 41 units of special military vehicles and 5 combat boats were destroyed. 

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