Russian President Vladimir Putin has compared the shelling of east Ukrainian towns and cities by Kiev’s troops to actions carried out by the Nazis during World War II.
“Sad as it might seem, this reminds me of the events of World War II, when the German Nazi occupants surrounded our cities, like Leningrad, and directly shelled those cities and their inhabitants,” Putin said on Friday, speaking at the “Seliger-2014” youth forum.
He recalled the signs in St. Petersburg, preserved since World War II, which warned citizens which side of the road was more vulnerable to shelling.
Now “both towns and cities are surrounded by the Ukrainian army, which is directly shelling residential areas with the purpose of destroying infrastructure, and suppressing the will of those in the resistance,” Putin said.
The president also commented on Kiev’s military units that are currently surrounded and blocked by anti-government militia. According to the latest data, Kiev has refused to try and negotiate safe passage for them to retreat.
“I think this is a colossal mistake that will lead to a lot of human casualties,” Putin said.
The Ukrainian leadership has demonstrated its inability to bring the situation under control, the Russian president said, urging talks between Kiev and the country’s east.
“Our partners’ position is clear to me,” he said. “Yes, there should be talks, but in the mean time we need to let Ukrainian troops to do a bit of shooting – maybe they will get the situation under control.”
Putin added that it was time to acknowledge that attempts to resolve the crisis by force have failed and it is “necessary to make Ukrainian authorities to begin negotiation and not over technical issues… but over the core issues.”
The main topic on the agenda should be the rights of the people living in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, the Russian president said.
Putin said he understood why the leadership of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic described their military actions against Kiev troops as a “humanitarian operation.”
“I can quite understand the self-defense forces of the southeast – Donbass, Lugansk – why they call this a military-humanitarian operation, what’s the point in their today’s actions – to drive artillery and cascade bombing systems away from the cities, so that they could do no harm to people,”
An average of around 36 people are being killed every day in Ukraine, according to estimates from the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights.
The agency’s Friday report says around 2,600 people – many of them civilians – have died in eastern Ukraine since the start of the Kiev’s military operation against anti-government forces there started in mid-April.
The Ukrainian Security Council estimates 789 Ukrainian servicemen are among those dead in the conflict.
On Friday the Council’s spokesman said that only over the preceding 24 hours 10 Ukrainian servicemen were killed and 30 injured.