Vladimir Putin Praises 'Special Operation' In Ukraine At Massive Rally In Front Of Tens Of Thousands
Vladimir Putin has held a rally in front of tens of thousands praising Russia's so-called 'special operation'.
The president of the nation addressed large crowds in Moscow's Luzhniki stadium today (18 March), as people waved flags and chanted 'Russia, Russia, Russia'.
Police said around 200,000 people had gathered in and around the stadium for the rally, which marked the eighth anniversary of Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula, which was seized from Ukraine.
Watch part of the speech below:
"We are united by the same destiny," Putin said of the people of Russia and Crimea.
"This is how the people thought and that's what they were guided by when they had the referendum in Sevastopol.
"They want to share their historical destiny with their motherland Russia - let us congratulate them on this occasion, it is their occasion. Congratulations."
Before the 69-year-old took to the stage, speakers praised him for fighting 'Nazism' in Ukraine - a view rubbished by leaders across the world.
"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 of the invasion. "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", he added before state television suddenly cut away, showing pre-recorded footage. As per RIA news agency, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said it was caused by a technical fault on a server.
Russia is now considered an authoritarian state for a number of reasons, including its repression of political opponents and state-controlled media.
As well as being condemned by world leaders, celebrities have also made appeals to Putin. Yesterday (17 March), Arnold Schwarzenegger urged him to 'stop this war'.
The Hollywood actor, bodybuilder and former Governor of California starred in the 1988 film Red Heat - which was the first US film shot in Moscow's Red Square.
After running through his history with Russia, how he felt about the conflict, and calling for it to stop, he spoke directly to Putin.
"To President Putin, I say: You started this war. You are leading this war. You can stop this war," he said.
The video has gone viral, racking up almost 26 million views at the time of writing.
Notably, his account is one of few followed by the Kremlin's official Twitter account.
If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information
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