Russian President Vladimir Putin called the mass killing of civilians in Bucha “fake” and praised Russia’s “noble” war against Ukraine during a visit to eastern Russia with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday.
“When it comes to Bucha … it’s the exact same fake as in Syria,” Putin said, in reference to Russian claims from 2018 that the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian war was staged by foreign agents. Bucha was “a psychological operation staged by Englishmen,” Lukashenko added.
After Russian troops partially withdrew from Bucha, a town outside of Kyiv, earlier this month, authorities discovered roads lined with civilians apparently tied up and shot at close range, as well as mass graves of local residents. Russia has repeatedly denied it was responsible, but numerous media outlets have independently shown that it was unlikely the scenes were staged by Ukraine.
The Russian president was on a joint visit with the Belarusian premier to the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s far east to celebrate “Space Day” and discuss the two countries’ space industries.
“What is happening in Ukraine is a tragedy … but they left us no choice,” Putin said, adding that Russia’s military “goals are absolutely clear and noble.” He also slammed the U.S., alleging Washington was using Ukraine as a proxy conflict and was “ready to fight against Russia until the last Ukrainian” — while repeating claims it was “impossible” to isolate Russia with sanctions because of its size.
Russia’s economy — which has been hammered by sanctions, inflation and capital flight since its invasion of Ukraine — is set to contract by over 10 percent this year, the biggest drop in GDP in more than two decades.