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Ukraine: Russian troops slaughter civilians waiting at a bus stop as Putin blames West for war

Russian troops were accused of slaughtering Ukrainian civilians waiting at a bus stop today during a major speech by Vladimir Putin to Moscow’s elite, in which he claimed the West was to blame for his on-going invasion.

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said several missiles fired by Russia’s military struck civilian targets in attacks on the southern city of Kherson.

He accused the Russia of ‘mercilessly killing the civilian population’ of Ukraine as his Russian counterpart delivered his annual state-of-the-nation address to  lawmakers in a rambling two-hour long speech.

Among his claims, Putin said: ‘The responsibility for fuelling the Ukrainian conflict, for its escalation, for the number of victims… lies completely with Western elites.’ The US called the speech ‘absurd’ while Kyiv said Putin was in a ‘different reality’.

Zelensky issued his own rebuttal in a post on Instagram, posting pictures of the aftermath of Russia’s strikes in Kherson. ‘The world cannot forget for a moment that Russian cruelty and aggression have no limits,’ he wrote. ‘The terrorist state will be responsible for all its inhumane crimes against our people and Ukraine.’

WARNING: Graphic images 

Pictured: A picture from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's Instagram account on Tuesday showing the aftermath of a Russian missile strike on a bus stop in Kherson Russia of 'mercilessly killing the civilian population' of Ukraine

Pictured: A picture from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Instagram account on Tuesday showing the aftermath of a Russian missile strike on a bus stop in Kherson Russia of ‘mercilessly killing the civilian population’ of Ukraine

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said several missiles fired by Russia's military struck civilian targets in attacks on the southern city of Kherson, and accused

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said several missiles fired by Russia’s military struck civilian targets in attacks on the southern city of Kherson, and accused 

Pictured: An injured person (centre) is seen on the ground close to where a Russian missile struck Kherson on Tuesday. The body of a victim of the strike is seen to the left

Pictured: An injured person (centre) is seen on the ground close to where a Russian missile struck Kherson on Tuesday. The body of a victim of the strike is seen to the left

The strikes on Kherson today killed at least five people and 16 others were in hospitals with injuries, the city’s council said.

In pictures Zelensky posted on Instagram, at least one body can be seen lying on the pavement in a pool of blood. Another person lies on the ground injured, their clothes clearly damaged in the blast. A second body is seen half covered in a foil blanket. 

The building next to the bus stop has been ripped apart too, with debris scattered across the street. Damage from the strike extends down the street.

‘The Russian army is heavily shelling Kherson. Again mercilessly killing the civilian population,’ Zelensky wrote. ‘A vehicle park, residential areas, a high-rise building, and a public transport stop were hit.’

AFP reporters also saw dead bodies covered with plastic sheets or foil blankets on the streets near a bus stop and a supermarket in Kherson.

On Sunday, regional authorities in the city said shelling had killed three adult members of a single family. Four others – including two children – were injured when a shell flew into the yard of a house in the village of Burgunka, officials said. 

Separately, an 8-year-old boy was injured by the shelling in the same village, the regional authorities said. 

Kherson is the capital of one of the four regions – along with Donetsk, Lugansk and Zaporizhzhia – that Russia claims to have annexed but never fully controlled.

Despite Russia’s retreat from Kherson in November as Ukraine’s lighting counterattack liberated hundreds of square miles in a matter of weeks, the city is regularly targeted by Moscow’s troops from the other side of the Dnipro river.

Pictured: Medics load a stretcher with a dead civilian on into an ambulance on February 21. The person was killed in a Russian missile strike on Kherson

Pictured: Medics load a stretcher with a dead civilian on into an ambulance on February 21. The person was killed in a Russian missile strike on Kherson

Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers are seen at the scene of the Russian missile strike in Kherson today

Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers are seen at the scene of the Russian missile strike in Kherson today

Pictured: A bus stop in Kherson is cordoned off after the area was struck by a Russian missile

Pictured: A bus stop in Kherson is cordoned off after the area was struck by a Russian missile

Pictured: People in Kherson assess the damage after a Russian missile struck in Tuesday

Pictured: People in Kherson assess the damage after a Russian missile struck in Tuesday

Pictured: A person cleans up broken glass from a window damaged after a shelling, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Kherson, Ukraine February 21

Pictured: A person cleans up broken glass from a window damaged after a shelling, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kherson, Ukraine February 21

Oleksandr Prokudin, head of the Kherson Regional Military Administration, said Russian troops had targeted the city ‘probably by Grad’ multiple rocket-launchers and that 20 explosions had been heard.

The strikes came as Russian President Vladimir Putin was giving a state of the nation address in Moscow, nearly one year into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In his long-delayed state-of-the-nation address, Putin cast his country – and Ukraine – as victims of Western double-dealing and said it was Russia, not Ukraine, fighting for its very existence. 

‘We aren’t fighting the Ukrainian people,’ Putin said in a speech days before the war’s first anniversary on Friday. Ukraine ‘has become hostage of the Kyiv regime and its Western masters, which have effectively occupied the country.’

The speech reiterated a litany of grievances that the Russian leader has frequently offered as justification for the widely condemned war while vowing no military let-up in Ukrainian territories he has illegally annexed, apparently rejecting any peace overtures in a conflict that has reawakened fears of a new Cold War.

Russia invaded on Feb. 24, 2022, and made a dash toward Kyiv, apparently expecting to quickly overrun the capital. But stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces – backed by Western weapons – turned back Moscow’s troops. 

While Ukraine has reclaimed many areas initially seized by Russia, the two sides have become bogged down in tit-for-tat battles in others.

Much of the speech covered old ground – though Putin did sharply up the ante in tensions with Washington by declaring that Moscow would suspend its participation in the last remaining nuclear arms control pact with the United States.

The so-called New START Treaty caps the number of long-range nuclear warheads they can deploy and limits the use of missiles that can carry atomic weapons.

Among his claims during Tuesday's speech, Putin said: 'The responsibility for fuelling the Ukrainian conflict, for its escalation, for the number of victims... lies completely with Western elites.' The US called the speech 'absurd' wile Kyiv said Putin was in a 'different reality'

Among his claims during Tuesday’s speech, Putin said: ‘The responsibility for fuelling the Ukrainian conflict, for its escalation, for the number of victims… lies completely with Western elites.’ The US called the speech ‘absurd’ wile Kyiv said Putin was in a ‘different reality’

In the speech, Putin offered his own version of recent history, which discounted arguments by the Ukrainian government that it needed Western help to thwart a Russian military takeover.

Putin denied any wrongdoing, even as the Kremlin’s forces in Ukraine strike civilian targets, including hospitals, and are widely accused of war crimes.

On the ground in Ukraine on Tuesday, grinding battles and shelling attacks continued in the east and the south of the country.

At least six people were killed and seven more sustained injuries over the past 24 hours, Ukraine’s presidential office reported in the morning.

Via Dailymail World News

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