(The Hill) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday called for Ukrainian military forces to overthrow their own government as Russia conducts a full-fledged military invasion in the European nation.
Putin said in a recorded address filmed before meeting with the Russian Security Council that Ukrainians need to “take power into your own hands” and overthrow a government he dubbed “neo-Nazis,” Politico reported.
“It seems that it will be easier for us to come to an agreement than with this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis, who occupied Kyiv and took the entire Ukrainian people hostage,” he said, according to Politico.
Putin also said Russian forces were fighting bravely for “our fatherland” and claimed Ukrainian fighters had launched artillery strikes from Kyiv to provoke Russian forces, The Guardian reported.
The fighting in Ukraine has drawn closer to Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine where the government led by President Volodymyr Zelensky is operating from.
Zelensky, who is Jewish, posted a video before fighting began directed to the Russian people, in which he countered Putin’s claims about his country.
“You are told we are Nazis. But can a people support Nazis that gave more than 8 million lives for the victory over Nazism? How can I be a Nazi?” he said. “Tell my grandpa, who went through the whole war in the infantry of the Soviet Army and died as a colonel in independent Ukraine.”
U.S. intelligence has said Russians are meeting more resistance than they had expected in the second day of fighting. Ukraine claims to have killed hundreds of Russian soldiers and downed Russian aircraft.