Putin: Special Op in Ukraine Going According to Plan
16:58 GMT 03.03.2022 (Updated: 05:43 GMT 04.03.2022)
On Thursday, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that the West has increased the dispatch of contract soldiers from private military companies to Ukraine and several European countries are sending mercenaries.
The military operation in Ukraine is going according to plan, and all tasks are being implemented "successfully", Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his address to the Russian Security Council.
"Our soldiers fight steadfastly, with a full understanding of the justice of their cause, even after being wounded, they remain in formation, sacrifice themselves [...] in order to save comrades and civilians", Putin said, noting that Russian troops are striving to prevent civilian casualties in Ukraine.
Putin also said that nationalists and foreign mercenaries in Ukraine are using civilians as human shields. They have not kept their promise to remove heavy military equipment from residential areas, he continued.
"Instead of fulfilling promises to remove this equipment from residential areas, from kindergartens, hospitals, on the contrary, tanks, artillery, mortars are being additionally deployed there", he said.
The Russian president additionally said that foreign citizens are being held hostage in Ukraine: among them are some 3,179 citizens of India.
"Neo-Nazis also opened fire on Chinese students who were trying to leave Kharkov. Two of them were injured. I repeat: hundreds of foreigners are trying to leave the war zone, but they are not being allowed to do so", Putin stressed.
But the way "neo-Nazis treat their own citizens" is even worse, according to him, as Russian soldiers have witnessed residents of apartment buildings being "herded into the middle floors of buildings", while in the lower floors "they break through windows and walls, put up heavy equipment there". Machine guns and snipers are being placed on roofs and on the upper floors of buildings, the president said.
Still, Russian troops "have provided corridors in all collision zones without exception, provided transport so that civilians, foreign citizens have the opportunity to go to a safe place" - something that "nationalists do not allow to be done", Putin stated.
Putin's address came shortly after Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that the West has increased the dispatch of contract soldiers from private military companies to Ukraine, with the US military intelligence launching a massive campaign to recruit PMC contractors for Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, for his part, stated that Ukraine expects some 16,000 foreign mercenaries to come and fight for the country.
According to estimations from the Russian Defence Ministry, 200 Croatian mercenaries have already arrived in Ukraine, with the UK, Denmark, Latvia, and Poland also giving the green light to sending mercenaries there. Konashenkov said that foreign soldiers who are already in Ukraine "commit sabotage and raids on Russian convoys of equipment and material supplies, as well as aircraft covering them".