It was the anniversary of a Russian heroic deed. On April 12, 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. On Tuesday, April 12, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin used the anniversary to declare that the invasion of Ukraine was “inevitable”, thus tying recent developments to the world-renowned Soviet citizen’s fame.
Putin spoke at the Vostochny cosmodrome in eastern Russia. Compare Gagarin’s achievement in a technically isolated Soviet Union with today’s sanctioned Russia. The message: The “lightning punishment” that the West is now waging against Russia will not bring down the country.
In Putin’s view, Russia helped the oppressed population of Ukraine’s Donbass region. On the one hand, we help and save people, and on the other hand, we simply take measures to ensure the security of Russia itself. Obviously, we had no choice. And it was the right decision.” The goals that Russia seeks to achieve are, in Putin’s words, “absolutely clear” and “noble.”
Russia invaded a neighboring country on February 24 and posed no threat. In the roughly seven weeks since, ten million Ukrainians have been displaced, two out of three Ukrainian children have been adrift, entire neighborhoods have been reduced to ashes, and an unknown number have been killed and wounded. Russian soldiers loot and commit war crimes. Thousands of Ukrainians were said to have been deported to Russia.
Read also: Mariupol battle
New mass graves daily
Pictures of the murdered civilians in Bucha, Putin denied calling them fake news. He said that negotiations with Ukraine to reach a ceasefire had stalled – although the Ukrainian side said that talks were still ongoing. According to Putin, Kyiv will not abide by the agreements reached earlier during the negotiations in Istanbul.
In the meantime, the Ukrainian government is doing everything in its power to gather as much conclusive evidence as possible about Russian crimes. War crimes are being investigated in the liberated areas. “New mass graves are being found almost daily,” President Volodymyr Zelensky told the Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday via a video link. He also stated that “hundreds of rape cases” had been documented in areas previously occupied by the Russian army. Among the victims were “underage girls and very young children”.
Ukraine gathers evidence to counter Russia’s ‘fake news’ allegations
According to the Russian president, the “military operation” is going according to plan, according to the state news agency TASS, using the term of the highest order war. Russia will continue until the original goals are achieved.
Putin also said that Moscow would act at a moderate pace, as originally expected. Speeding up the process will lead to losses. It has always been about the Donbass islands, and actions in other parts of Ukraine were aimed at weakening the opponent. Russian soldiers withdrew from Kyiv in recent days because they could not take the capital and are now regrouping in the southeast for a battle in the Donbass.
The West is trying to isolate Russia with sanctions. But Putin said during his speech on “Cosmonautics Day”, that in the modern world it is impossible to isolate a country on a large scale, “especially a huge country like Russia.”
At the time of Gagarin, in the early 1960s, the Soviet Union and the United States were engaged in the space race, in which the Soviet Union initially took the lead.
Putin: “In spite of everything, the Soviet Union was the first to launch a satellite, we had the first cosmonaut, the first flight to the moon, the first flight in space, the first female cosmonaut. Tereshkova – God bless her – was also ours.
“Do you really think that today’s Russia, with its advanced technology, is not able to maintain its space program in the future?”
It was the first public appearance of the Russian president outside Moscow since the start of the war. Putin was accompanied – not by chance – Alexander Lukashenko, leader and ally of Belarus.
A version of this article also appeared on NRC on the morning of April 13, 2022