Taking part in the meeting were Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin, Deputy Chair of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev, Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Anton Vaino, Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev, Minister of the Interior Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu, Director of the Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov, Director of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergei Naryshkin, and Special Representative of the President of the Russian Federation for Environmental Protection, Ecology and Transport Sergei Ivanov.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Comrades,
On February 24 we commenced the special military operation in Ukraine. In achieving its objectives of protecting our people in Donbass and providing for the security of our Motherland, Russian soldiers and officers are acting courageously, like true heroes.
Our servicemen are fighting hard, fully understanding the righteousness of their cause. Soldiers and officers remain in position even after being wounded. They sacrifice themselves, their lives, to save their fellow soldiers and civilians.
Our servicemen and Donbass militia are really displaying mass heroism.
I would distinguish the personnel of the 100th Motorised Rifle Brigade fighting in the Donetsk area. Its servicemen under the command of Colonel Alexey Berngard breached the deeply fortified defenses in the Volnovakhi region that have been strengthened and equipped by the nationalists for almost eight years.
Tank platoon commander Lieutenant of the Guards Viktor Sokolnik destroyed fived tanks in battle.
On February 25, outside of Chuginka, company leader of the 163th armour regiment Captain Alexei Lyovkin came upon nationalist units including 15 tanks and six mechanized infantry combat vehicles. He and his personnel attacked the enemy and destroyed all the MICVs and five tanks, completing the mission without losses.
I have signed an executive order on awarding the title of Hero of Russia to Lieutenant Nurmagomed Gadzhimagomedov, regrettably, posthumously. During a battle he confidently lead his soldiers, taking care of his subordinates as a good commander should. Even when he was seriously wounded, he continued fighting to his last breath, blowing up himself, along with the militants who surrounded him, with a grenade. He did that because he knew who he was dealing with – neo-Nazis who torture and brutally murder prisoners.
I am a Russian. As they say, all my relatives are Ivans and Marias. But when I see heroes like this young man, Nurmagomed Gadzhimagomedov, a resident of Dagestan and an ethnic Lak, and our other soldiers, I can hardly stop myself from saying: I am a Lak, a Dagestani, a Chechen, an Ingush, a Russian, a Tatar, a Jew, a Mordovian, an Ossetian… It is impossible to name all of the more than 300 nationalities and ethnic groups that live in Russia. I think you can understand me. I am proud to be part of this world, part of our powerful and strong multinational people of Russia.
At the same time, I will never abandon my conviction that Russians and Ukrainians are one nation, even though some people in Ukraine have been intimidated, many have been duped by nationalist Nazi propaganda, and some have consciously decided to become followers of Bandera and other Nazi accomplices, who fought on Hitler’s side during the Great Patriotic War.
It is a fact that we are fighting neo-Nazis, which can be seen from the course of the hostilities. The nationalist and neo-Nazi units – and there are foreign mercenaries in them, including from the Middle East – are using peaceful civilians as a human shield. As I have said, there is objective data and photos of how they deploy military equipment in residential districts. They are behaving like this, like outright criminals, and instead of honouring their promise to remove that equipment from residential neighbourhoods, kindergartens and hospitals, they are deploying more tanks, artillery guns and mortar launchers there.
They have also taken foreign nationals hostage, including thousands of young people, students who were receiving an education in Ukraine. For example, they held 3,179 Indian citizens, most of them students, at the railway station in Kharkov for over a day. And they are still holding the majority of them, including 576 in Sumy. The neo-Nazis opened fire on the Chinese students who wanted to leave Kharkov, wounding two of them.
As I have said, hundreds of foreign nationals are trying to leave the combat zones, but they are being prevented from doing so. In fact, they are being held hostage; the hostage-takers are playing for time or are offering them a chance to leave via Lviv or Poland, that is, to cross the combat zone, thereby risking their lives.
Our service personnel have opened corridors in absolutely all conflict areas. They have offered transportation so peaceful civilians and foreign nationals can go to a safe place.
I would like to point out again that the nationalists are preventing them from doing this. Moreover, they are telling foreign nationals to turn to their own authorities, which have to seek the assistance of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. In fact, they are pushing these people into the line of fire.
The nationalists are acting even worse towards their own citizens, their own people. As I said, they are using people as human shields. Our service personnel have reported instances where people in residential buildings in the Donetsk People’s Republic – in Severodonetsk, Lisichansk and other towns – are forced to gather in the middle floors; the windows and walls in the lower floors are broken open to mount heavy weaponry such as cannons, and tanks, and machineguns, and snipers are placed on the roof and on the upper floors.
It is only fascists that did this, they were the ones that treated civilians so inhumanely when Soviet forces were fighting them, including as they were liberating Ukraine.
I would like to repeat that our soldiers and officers are trying to prevent civilian casualties, and regrettably, they are sustaining losses while doing this.
It is our duty to support the families of our dead and wounded comrades, who fight for the security of our Fatherland, for our people, for the people of Russia.
All family members of the servicemen who have perished during this special military operation in Ukraine will be issued a death gratuity and a one-time payment of 7,421,000 rubles. Monthly compensation will also be paid to each family member of the deceased.
In addition, I consider it necessary to approve an additional payment of 5 million rubles to each family of Defence Ministry service members, and service members and other personnel of the other security agencies killed during the operation.
Any service personnel wounded during the operation will be issued benefit payments as well. I am referring to insurance benefits and one-time payments for being wounded, injured or for receiving a concussion.
Wounded contract service personnel found unfit for duty will be issued a one-time payment of 2,968,000 rubles, and a monthly payment in case of permanent disability. All these measures are provided for by law.
At the same time, I believe that an additional payment of 3 million rubles should be stipulated for Defence Ministry service personnel and service members and other personnel of other security agencies who are wounded during the operation.
I would like to emphasise once again that our men and officers are fighting in Ukraine for Russia, for a peaceful life for the citizens of Donbass, and for the denazification and demilitarisation of Ukraine, so that no anti-Russia, which the West has been creating for years right on our border, can threaten us, including with nuclear weapons, as has recently become the case.
Our people are proud of their Armed Forces. We will never forget our comrades who have been killed in action. We will do everything necessary to support their families and children, to give them an education, to support their loved ones.
Let us pay our respects to our soldiers who have died doing their military duty during this special military operation in Ukraine.
(Minute of silence.)
I would like to say that the special military operation is proceeding on schedule and according to plan. All the tasks are being fulfilled. The Defence Minister will report in more detail on this.
Mr Shoigu, please.