Ukraine crisis: Kyiv experiencing ‘horrific’ rocket strikes not seen since Nazi attacks in 1941, Ukrainian foreign minister says
Dmytro Kuleba, minister of foreign affairs for Ukraine, called for the international community to “sever all ties” with Russia. Meanwhile, the EU warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking to destroy Ukraine and said that his actions are comparable to those of the Nazis in World War II.
Mr Kuleba’s comments come as Mr Putin said in a televised address that the Ukrainian authorities are a "gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis who've holed up in Kyiv and taken the entire Ukrainian nation hostage".
A separate press conference with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia could not recognise the current Ukrainian government as democratic – repeating accusations of genocide of Russian speakers in Ukrainian regions and claims of “Nazi” style government in the country.
Mr Kuleba said: “Horrific Russian rocket strikes on Kyiv. Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany. Ukraine defeated that evil and will defeat this one. Stop [Vladimir] Putin. Isolate Russia. Severe all ties. Kick Russia out of everywhere.”
In a press conference in Brussels, EU spokesman Peter Stano said that Mr Putin was “behaving like Nazis”.
“He is talking about de-nazifying Ukraine, but he behaves like Nazis. So this is all in his head.”
Ukraine's Ministry of Defence took to Facebook to ask residents living in Kyiv's northern outskirts, where Russian tanks moved in on Friday morning, to make Molotov cocktail fire bombs "to neutralise the enemy". Residents in the Obolon district were also told to stay home to avoid “active military operations”.
Interior Ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko reported 18,000 machine guns had been handed out in Kyiv to volunteers – “all those who want to defend our capital with weapons in their arms”.
"Ukrainian military equipment is entering Kyiv now to defend it,” he said. “I am asking all residents of Kyiv – please do not film it, do not film its movements. This is necessary to protect our city."
Russian government minister Mr Lavrov claimed Russian speakers had been denied the chance to speak their own language in schools and in daily life such as in shops and public places. But he insisted Russia would give Ukraine an “independent” government, which would reflect the “diversity” of Ukraine.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has refuted claims of genocide of Russian speakers in the eastern breakaway regions of his country – and allegations of Nazism in the Ukrainian government.
Mr Lavrov said: "Is it acceptable in democratic societies to state that people who live on one part of the territory in Ukraine are not people, but ‘species’ as Zelensky defined them?”
He added: “We will do everything to ensure that the Ukrainian government is independent and it represents the variety and diversity of Ukrainian people. At the moment it’s under external control with the aim to support Nazi philosophy – it is under Western control.”
Mr Lavrov said Russian president Putin wanted to remove the “Nazi” elements from Ukraine.
He said: "We want Ukrainian people, all people living on the territory of Ukraine, to have the opportunity to determine their future. Russia will ensure demilitarisation of Ukraine, Russia will free Ukraine from Nazism.”
Mr Zelensky, who is Jewish, on Thursday issued a statement directly to Mr Putin.
He said: “The Ukraine on your news and Ukraine in real life are two completely different countries — and the main difference between them is ours is real. You are told we are Nazis. But could a people who lost more than eight million lives in the battle against Nazism support Nazism?”
The Ukrainian president added: “How can I be a Nazi? Explain it to my grandfather, who went through the entire war in the infantry of the Soviet army, and died a colonel in an independent Ukraine.”
Mr Zelensky has said previously three of his grandfather’s brothers were killed in the Holocaust.
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