Putin launches ‘Special Military Operation’ in Donbass

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Fighters of the Donetsk People’s Republic in the Donbass

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin announced a ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine’s Donbass region early yesterday morning to ‘defend people there against government forces’, stressing that Moscow has ‘no plans to occupy Ukrainian territory’.

In his address Putin said the special operation would aim to ‘demilitarise’ and ‘de-Nazify’ Ukraine.
The Russian leader emphasised that the goal of the military operation ‘will be to defend people who for eight years are suffering persecution and genocide by the Kiev regime’.
‘For this end,’ he said, ‘we will strive for the demilitarisation and denazification of Ukraine, as well as bringing to justice those who committed numerous, bloody crimes against civilians, including citizens of the Russian Federation.
‘At the same time, our plans do not include the occupation of Ukrainian territories.
‘We are not going to impose anything on anyone by force. At the same time, we hear that recently in the West there are more and more words that the documents signed by the Soviet totalitarian regime, which consolidate the results of the Second World War, should no longer be carried out. Well, what is the answer to this?
‘The results of the Second World War, as well as the sacrifices made by our people on the altar of victory over Nazism, are sacred. But this does not contradict the high values of human rights and freedoms, based on the realities that have developed today over all the post-war decades. It also does not cancel the right of nations to self-determination, enshrined in Article 1 of the UN Charter.
‘Let me remind you that neither during the creation of the USSR, nor after the Second World War, people living in certain territories that are part of modern Ukraine, no one ever asked how they themselves want to arrange their lives.
‘Our policy is based on freedom, the freedom of choice for everyone to independently determine their own future and the future of their children.
‘And we consider it important that this right – the right to choose – could be used by all the peoples living on the territory of today’s Ukraine, by everyone who wants it.
‘In this regard, I appeal to the citizens of Ukraine. In 2014, Russia was obliged to protect the inhabitants of Crimea and Sevastopol from those whom you yourself call “Nazis”. Crimeans and Sevastopol residents made their choice to be with their historical homeland, with Russia, and we supported this. I repeat, they simply could not do otherwise.
‘Today’s events are not connected with the desire to infringe on the interests of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.
‘They are connected with the protection of Russia itself from those who took Ukraine hostage and are trying to use it against our country and its people.’

Johnson ratchets up sanctions

PRIME Minister Boris Johnson made a statement to the House of Commons yesterday at 5pm on the intentions of his government to apply sanctions on Russia over the situation in Ukraine.
He said: ‘We are proud to defend Ukraine politically, economically and militarily.
‘We will work to end Europe’s collective dependency on Russian oil and gas: halt Nord Stream 2.
‘There will be the largest UK package to target Russian finance including a full asset freeze, stopping Russia’s access to sterling.
‘We will prevent Russia accessing loans and limit the amount of money that Russian nationals can hold in UK banks.
‘We will place asset freezes on 100 new entities in addition to the 100 already sanctioned, including banning Aeroflot from the UK.
‘Unexplained wealth orders will be included in the crime bill.
‘We will introduce new trade restrictions. The US is taking similar measures.
‘Ban the export of all dual-use items in telecoms and aerospace, that can be used militarily, which will restrain Russia’s technical expertise for years to come.
‘Sanctions will be applied to Belarus.
‘A new kleptocracy cell of oligarchs in London will have nowhere to hide: we have the potential to cut Russia from SWIFT (international payments system) and “nothing off the table”.
‘For that we must have the unity of the G7.
‘There can be no creeping normalisation.’
He pointed out that Russian stocks had already dropped by as much as 45%, including those of Sberbank and Gazprom, claiming that his sanctions would ‘squeeze Russia from the global economy and international fora’.
Johnson announced that he had called for a meeting of NATO today.
Labour leader Keir Starmer gave full support to Johnson, describing ‘Putin’s bandit rule under the barrel of a gun.’
‘We must prepare ourselves for pain but the British have always been shown ready to sacrifice against autocratic power,’ he said.
‘We must provide weapons to Ukraine.’
Earlier in the day in a televised address Johnson said: ‘President Putin of Russia has unleashed war in our European continent.
Johnson began: ‘Shortly after four o’clock this morning I spoke to President Zelensky of Ukraine to offer the continued support of the UK, because our worst fears have now come true and all our warnings have been proved tragically accurate.’
He said: ‘A vast invasion is underway, by land, by sea and by air.
‘This is not in the infamous phrase “some far away country” of which we know little.
‘We have Ukrainian friends, in this country, neighbours, co-workers. Ukraine is a country that for decades has enjoyed freedom and democracy and the right to choose its own destiny.
‘We and the world cannot allow that freedom to be snuffed out.
‘We cannot and will not just look away.
‘It is because we have been so alarmed in recent months at Russian intimidation that the UK became one of the first countries in Europe to send defensive weaponry to help the Ukrainians.
‘Other allies have now done the same and we will do what more we can.
He added, addressing the Ukrainians: ‘If the months ahead are grim and the flame of freedom burns low, I know that it will burn bright again in Ukraine because for all his bombs and tanks and missiles, I don’t believe that the Russian dictator will ever subdue the national feeling of Ukrainians and their passionate belief that their country should be free.’
Labour Leader Keir Starmer backed up Johnson in his own address.
‘The hardest possible sanctions must be taken against the Putin regime,’ he said.
‘It must be isolated, its finances frozen, its ability to function crippled.’

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