Vladimir Putin Holds Huge Rally In Front Of Tens Of Thousands Of Russians Waving 'Z' Flags

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a huge rally today (18 March) to demonstrate support for his attack against Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin today held a huge rally to prop-up support for his invasion of Ukraine in front of thousands of 'Z' flag-waving Russians crammed into Moscow's Luzhniki World Cup stadium.

The pro-war event, which was quickly likened to rallies held by former US president Donald Trump, was held to mark the eighth anniversary of Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, and saw the Russian strongman talk about the success of his 'special operation' in Ukraine.

Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in an effort to degrade the military capability of its southern neighbour and root out people it called dangerous nationalists.

Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.

The white 'Z' has become a symbol of pro-Russian nationalism since Putin launched his brutal invasion of his neighbour on February 24, as it is painted on many of Moscow's military vehicles.

As his bombs continued to fall just hundreds of miles away in Ukraine, Putin boasted of Russia and Crimea's 'shared destiny', and praised the peninsula's people for voting in a referendum to be part of Russia - which was held while it was still occupied by Russian troops.

'We are united by the same destiny,' he said of the people of Russia and Crimea. 'This is how the people thought and that's what they were guided by when they had the referendum in Sevastopol.

'They want to share their historical destiny with their motherland Russia - let us congratulate them on this occasion, it is their occasion. Congratulations,' he said to huge cheers.

Putin repeated false claims about neo-Nazis in Ukraine, a line he has used repeatedly in an attempt to justify his invasion - despite Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky being Jewish, and far-right parties enjoying almost no political support in the country.

'Sevastopol did the right thing when they put up a barrier to neo-Nazis and radicals, which is already happening on other territories,' he said. '[The] people of Danobas also disagreed with this, and straightaway they organised military operations against them.'

On the war in Ukraine, Putin praised the Russian troops taking part in his 'special operation', who he said are fighting for the 'universal values' of all Russians.

'The best confirmation is how our guys are fighting during this operation, shoulder to shoulder, helping each other. When it is necessary, they cover each-other as if it was their own brother from bullets. We haven't had such unity in a long time,' he said.

At one point in Putin's speech, the crowd could be heard chanting 'Russia, Russia, Russia.'

Moscow police said more than 200,000 people were in and around the Luzhniki stadium for the rally.

The event included well-known singer Oleg Gazmanov singing 'Made in the U.S.S.R.,' with the opening lines 'Ukraine and Crimea, Belarus and Moldova, It's all my country.'

But in a bizarre moment, Russian state television suddenly cut away from Putin mid-speech on Friday, instead showing patriotic songs being played at the event instead. Putin's spokesman explained the broadcast problems as a technical glitch at the server' rather than Western interference.

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