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Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

President Vladimir Putin praised the “authentic heroes” engaged in the conflict in Ukraine, bolstered by recent gains against Ukrainian troops suffering from ammunition shortages, on the eve of the second anniversary of the offensive.

His remarks coincided with Moscow’s “Defender of the Fatherland Day” patriotic holiday, traditionally celebrated with military displays and Kremlin-sponsored patriotism. Putin highlighted the increased production and supply of weapons to Russian troops in a video message released by the presidency.

This year’s holiday holds particular significance as Putin commemorates the symbolic capture of the Ukrainian city of Avdiivka and revels in the US Congress’s decision to withhold crucial military aid to Kyiv. As Putin gears up for an election expected to extend his tenure, a significant crackdown on dissent has stifled opposition, with Alexei Navalny, his primary challenger, deceased. Putin has actively engaged in military activities, including flying bomber planes and awarding medals to troops, while proclaiming a “turning point” in the Ukraine conflict.

Earlier in the week, Putin derided what he termed the “chaotic flight” of Ukrainian soldiers from Avdiivka, framing the capture of the city as a milestone in Russia’s defense of its interests. Meanwhile, Ukraine faces challenges exacerbated by the suspension of US aid, a failed counter-offensive, and worsening ammunition shortages. President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged the dire situation on the front lines, with Ukrainian forces exhausted after two years of conflict against a superior adversary.

In the face of adversity, Ukrainian troops remain resolute, despite feeling outmatched by Russia’s military capabilities. Oleksiy, an infantryman, expressed the difficulties faced by Ukrainian forces, emphasizing their lack of resources compared to their Russian counterparts. The fall of Avdiivka dealt a blow to morale, but soldiers like Oleksiy remain determined to continue the fight, aware of the strategic implications of ceding ground to the enemy.

As Moscow commemorates the holiday with ceremonial gestures, including laying flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and honoring troops, schools in Russia witness unprecedented militarization. Criticism of Russia’s campaign in Ukraine is strictly prohibited, with dissenters facing severe repercussions reminiscent of Soviet-era repression. Meanwhile, the United States prepares to announce new sanctions in response to Navalny’s death, further escalating tensions between the two nations.

In Kyiv, foreign dignitaries gather to mark the two-year anniversary of the conflict, reflecting on the resilience of Ukrainian forces who repelled Russian advances in the capital. Despite facing formidable challenges, Zelensky reaffirmed Ukraine’s determination to reclaim its territory, echoing the steadfast resolve of its troops. In the midst of adversity, Ukraine continues to demonstrate resilience, inflicting losses on the Russian navy in the Black Sea and maintaining readiness to defend against further aggression in eastern Ukraine.

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