Chris Lange, FISM News
Vladimir Putin, who has repeatedly called for the “denazification” of Ukraine, invoked Hitler himself in bone-chilling remarks he made Wednesday. The Russian president berated Russian citizens who dare criticize his war on Ukraine in a televised appearance, saying a “purification” of his country was “necessary.”
Looking directly into the camera, Putin said his regime “will always be able to distinguish true patriots from scum and traitors and will simply spit them out like a gnat that accidentally flew into their mouths,” adding “I am convinced that such a natural and necessary self-purification of society will only strengthen our country.”
Putin: “I am convinced that such a natural and necessary self-purification of society will only strengthen our country.” pic.twitter.com/QlfYJVrUAR
— Donald Standeford (@Don_Standeford) March 16, 2022
The ominous statement comes at a time when both Russian and Ukrainian negotiators have expressed cautious optimism that both sides could potentially reach an agreement to end the war.
Cracks in Putin’s steely veneer of self-possession and resolve have become increasingly evident as Russian forces continue to meet greater Ukrainian resistance than they had expected. Meanwhile, Moscow’s economy has endured a swift collapse under punishing sanctions as Putin faces irreversible global condemnation for his unmitigated, unprovoked brutality toward Ukraine.
Biden pivots to acknowledge Putin is a ‘war criminal’
During an exchange with a reporter at the White House Wednesday, Biden publicly acknowledged that Putin is a “war criminal,” a label he and his administration had avoided using up to that point.
“Oh, I think he is a war criminal,” Biden said after initially responding “no” to a question about whether he was ready to ascribe the term to Russia’s president.
— UkraineWorld (@ukraine_world) March 16, 2022
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki later said the president spoke from the heart, but pointed out that a separate legal process is currently underway at the State Department to determine whether Putin violated international law and committed war crimes.
Russian forces bomb theatre where hundreds had been sheltering
In yet another example of the ruthless brutality of the Kremlin regime, Russian forces bombed a theater where women and children had been sheltering in the besieged southern port city of Mariupol. The attack occurred despite the fact that the Russian word for “children” was painted in huge letters on the ground next to the building.
Ukraine’s foreign affairs minister called the attack “another horrendous war crime.”
Another horrendous war crime in Mariupol. Massive Russian attack on the Drama Theater where hundreds of innocent civilians were hiding. The building is now fully ruined. Russians could not have not known this was a civilian shelter. Save Mariupol! Stop Russian war criminals! pic.twitter.com/bIQLxe7mli
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) March 16, 2022
Zelenskyy’s former press secretary, Luliaa Mendel, revealed the welcomed discovery that the bomb shelter at the theater to have remained intact. Though the rescue operation is still under way, she said it appears that the majority of Ukrainians inside had survived the attack.
The bomb shelter in Mariupol Drama Theatre has survived the brutal Russian missile. At least, majority stayed alive after bombing. People are getting out from the rubble
— Iuliia Mendel (@IuliiaMendel) March 17, 2022
The Russian Embassy in the U.S. denied that Russian forces had any involvement in the attack, calling it part of an “ongoing disinformation campaign in the American media.”
As Russia continues to broaden its attacks on Ukraine’s cities, residents of Mariupol have suffered particularly brutish assaults. Local officials there say more than 2,300 people have been killed by shelling and missile strikes while terrified survivors struggle without food, water, heat, and medicine.
In a particularly gut-wrenching scene, Dr. Valeriy Drengar used his cell phone to film himself lifting the corner of a small blanket to reveal the body of a 22-day-old infant who had been killed as other heartbreakingly small, wrapped bodies lay nearby.
“These are the people we could not save,” Drengar said.
Biden authorizes additional $800 million aid in response to impassioned plea by Zelenskyy
On Wednesday, the White House approved an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine. The announcement followed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s powerful speech before Congress, during which he appealed directly to President Biden for more help,
The aid package will include long-range missile anti-aircraft systems, 9,000 anti-armor systems, drones, and small arms including machine guns, shotguns, and grenade launchers. The package will also include radar technology to help Ukrainian troops detect and take down drones which the Russians have used to great and devastating effect.
“More will be coming as we source additional stocks of equipment that … we are ready to transfer,” Biden said.