MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin on Monday marked the Day of Russia national holiday by lauding the country’s patriotic tradition as a support for soldiers fighting in Ukraine.
“This public holiday marks the inseparability of centuries-old history, the greatness and glory of the Fatherland, affirms the unity of the multinational people, devotion to their country, a warm, sincere attitude towards their beloved Motherland,” he said at a ceremony presenting state awards.
“Such keen feelings … in a difficult time for Russia, they unite our society even more strongly, serve as a reliable support for our heroes, the participants in the special military operation,” Putin said, using the Russian official terminology for the Ukraine conflict.
The holiday comes amid intensifying counteroffensive operations by Ukraine against Russian forces that occupy about 20% of the country. Ukrainian officials in recent days claimed to have regained control of some villages and to have made advances at some points along the front line.
Although Russia has been widely criticized for strikes on civilian targets including apartment buildings, Putin told recipients of the state awards that he was shocked by Ukraine attacking civilian areas.
″ I can’t understand in any way why the enemy is striking residential areas. What for? Why? What is the point? (They are striking) clearly humanitarian facilities. What is the point of this? There is no military point, there is none,” he said.
The Day of Russia marks Russia’s declaration of sovereignty in 1990, when it was still part of the Soviet Union. As part of that declaration, Russia asserted that its own laws took precedence over Soviet legislation. The move is seen as marking the beginning of constitutional reform in Russia, which became independent in the USSR’s collapse in 1991.
The Associated Press