Vladimir Putin defends war, says its goals are ‘noble’

Vladimir Putin defends war, says its goals are ‘noble’

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Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with members of the Delovaya Rossiya (Business Russia) All-Russian Public Organization at the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia February 3, 2022. Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with members of the Delovaya Rossiya (Business Russia) All-Russian Public Organization at the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia February 3, 2022. Reuters
  • Ukraine and allies check reports of chemical weapons use.
  • Battle for Mariupol reaches decisive stage.
  • UN official cites growing reports of rape.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday defended the war in Ukraine as a “noble” mission that would achieve its goals as his troops massed for a new offensive amid allegations of rape, brutality against civilians, and possible use of chemical weapons.

Ukrainian officials urged civilians to flee eastern areas ahead of the anticipated offensive, while the battle for the southern port city of Mariupol was reaching a decisive phase, with Ukrainian marines holed up in the Azovstal industrial district.

Should the Russians seize Azovstal, they would be in full control of Mariupol, the lynchpin between Russian-held areas to the west and east. The city has already been laid waste by weeks of Russian bombardments and officials say about 20,000 people or more may have been killed.

Putin, speaking in Russia’s Far East at a ceremony marking the 61st anniversary of the Soviet Union putting the first man into space, spoke defiantly despite Western abhorrence of his actions and the imposition of wide-ranging international sanctions on his country.

Asked by space agency workers if the operation in Ukraine would achieve its goals, Putin said: “Absolutely. I don’t have any doubt at all.”

“Its goals are absolutely clear and noble,” Putin added. 

“We didn’t have a choice. It was the right decision.”

He was due to meet his ally, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, to discuss Ukraine and Western sanctions while there.

Putin has cast what he calls a “special military operation” as a confrontation with the United States which he says is threatening Russia by meddling in its backyard. The West says it is a brutal land grab of a sovereign country.

Since he sent his troops over the border on Feb 24, about a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million population have been forced from their homes, cities turned into rubble, and thousands of people have been killed or injured, many of them civilians.

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