Putin vows to rid Russia of 'scum and traitors'
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The former editor of the Sunday Times shared a video on Twitter in which the Russian leader delivers a long and rambling speech detailing Moscow’s hatred of the West as countries double-down on sanctions against Russia in response to the war in Ukraine. Putin accused the West of trying to “violate” and “dismember” Russia in a long rant in which he vowed to cleanse the country of “scum and traitors” from Russia who ally themselves with the West.
Speaking in a televised address from the Kremlin on Wednesday, nearly three weeks into Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Putin warned the West would use “those who earn their money here, but live over there” as a “fifth column” to “divide our society”.
As Russia spirals further into economic turmoil in the wake of western sanctions while the conflict in Ukraine escalates, Putin accused the West of trying to destroy Russia in a chilling outburst.
He said: “The collective West is trying to split our society, speculating on the combat losses, on the socio-economic consequences of sanctions, provoking a civil confrontation in Russia and using its fifth column to achieve its goal.”
He added: “Any people, and particularly the Russian people, will always be able to tell apart the patriots from the scum and traitors and spit them out like a midge that accidentally flew into their mouths.”
The Russian leader went on: “I am convinced that this natural and necessary self-cleansing of society will only strengthen our country, our solidarity, cohesion and readiness to meet any challenge.”
Mr Neil reacted to the rant on Twitter: “More and more the meanderings and musings of a fascist.”
Other Twitter users responded to Putin’s outburst.
Writer S Sebag Montefiore tweeted: “Traitors. Scum. Purification. Enemies. Putin’s speech and vocabulary back to 1937.”
Questions have also been raised about the leader’s mental state since his decision to invade Ukraine, with those who have been in close contact with Putin in recent months remarking on a change in his mental health.
The French President Emmanuel Macron, who held five-hours of talks with Putin just before he launched the invasion, said the leader was “more rigid, more isolated” than when they last met in 2019 and was off on an “ideological and security drift”.
Putin’s outburst came following reports that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was faltering as Kremlin troops were “struggling” to overcome the “challenges” on the frontline, according to the UK’s ministry of defence.
The latest update from the UK’s ministry of defence praised Ukraine’s actions to defend the country.
It said: “The tactics of the Ukrainian armed forces have adeptly exploited Russia’s lack of manoeuvre, frustrating the Russian advance and inflicting heavy losses on the invading forces.”
Russian troops have met strong resistance from Ukrainian troops amid reports that the Kremlin’s invasion has not gone as planned.
Ukraine forces have managed to hold onto several key cities in the country as Russian troops have stepped up attacks with heavy bombardment and shelling of civilians.
Russia has suffered heavy military losses so far, with the US military estimating between 5,000 and 6,000 Russian soldiers have been killed since the war began on February 24.
The US estimated between 2,000 and 4,000 Ukrainian armed forces, national guard and volunteer forces have also been killed as a result of the Russian onslaught.
A fourth prominent Russian general was also killed yesterday in another heavy blow to Putin’s invasion.
Russia has only conceded that 498 of its troops have died, which is thought to be a dramatic underestimation.
The mounting death toll and widespread condemnation from the West has also sparked growing opposition to the war inside Russia.
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Putin’s latest outburst was issued just two days after a producer at Russia’s state-run Channel One interrupted the news with a rare public protest against the conflict in Ukraine.
Marina Ovsyannikova burst onto the set holding a sign behind the news anchor which read: “They’re lying to you.”
Ms Ovsyannikov’s protest against Russian propaganda gained international praise for bravely attempting to show the public the truth about Moscow’s unprovoked attack on its neighbour.
There were also widespread protests across Russia this weekend with thousands of people taking to the streets to demand an end to the war.
Russia has persistently called the assault on Ukraine a “special military operation” to protect breakaway Ukrainian regions from what it claims to be a “fascist regime” in Kyiv.
It insists it is only targeting military installations and denies reports that Russian forces have consistently targeted civilians.
In the besieged city of Mariupol alone, Ukraine authorities say more than 2,500 civilians have died as Russia continues to step up attacks on residential areas, with electricity, water and heat cut off.
Over 3 million people have been forced to flee the country since the war began, according to the United Nations.
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