Vladimir Putin said Friday the people of Ukraine and Russia were “practically a single nationality” in a defiant speech that also compared the surrounding of eastern cities by Kiev forces to the Nazi sieges of World War II. The Russian president told a youth camp outside Moscow that Western powers had supported the overthrow of Ukraine’s government in February, adding: “If these are European values, I am deeply disappointed."
Putin spoke despite a chorus of international condemnation. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russian troops were involved in "direct military operations" inside Ukraine “despite Moscow’s hollow denials.” Ukraine has accused Russia of bringing tanks, artillery and troops to support separatists in eastern Ukraine, which Moscow denies.
- Albina Kovalyova and Alastair Jamieson