Russia ramps up propaganda campaign with eerie display of children handling weapons
Russia: Children appear to handle weapons
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Children have appeared in a paramilitary parade in the Russian town of Novorzhev near the border with Latvia. Locals are reported to have held the parade “in support of the army and president” in the “fight against Nazism,” a sign Vladimir Putin retains popular support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.
A drill sergeant barks orders as the children move their assault rifles through a series of poses.
The kids appear to be dressed up in the light blue striped tops popular with elite Russian “Spetnaz” units.
Parents and crowds watch on as the children stand to attention before some drop down and perform the splits.
A round of applause breaks out before the kids march off from the drill square.
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The event comes as Russian missiles struck an apartment building and two-holiday camps near Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa early on Friday, killing at least 18 people and wounding dozens, Ukrainian authorities said.
One missile struck the building in the village of Serhiivka in the Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi district, killing 16 people, Odesa region emergency official Ihor Budalenko told local television, adding that 41 people had been rescued.
Mr Budalenko said rescue work was still ongoing to find people who could still be trapped in the building where 152 lived.
Serhiy Bratchuk, spokesman for the Odesa regional administration, said missiles also hit two-holiday camps nearby.
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Russia has denied targeting civilians since it invaded Ukraine in late February in what it calls a “special operation” to demilitarise its neighbour.
Ukrainian officials have said a Kh-22 missile fired by a Russian bomber hit a crowded shopping mall in the central city of Kremenchuk on Monday, killing at least 19 people.
That strike drew condemnation from Western leaders and the pope but Russia rejected Ukraine’s account, saying the missile had struck a store of Western-supplied weapons next to the mall, causing it to catch fire.
A Ukrainian army general on Thursday said Russia was trying to hit military and critical infrastructure with its missile strikes but that because it was often using inaccurate Soviet missiles it was causing significant loss of civilian life.
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He said 202 missiles had been fired on Ukraine in the second half of June, an increase of 120 from the first half of the month.
He estimated that 68 civilian sites had been hit in the second half of June.
The attack came after Russia on Thursday said it had decided to withdraw from Snake Island as a “gesture of goodwill” to show it was not obstructing U.N. attempts to open a humanitarian corridor allowing grain to be shipped from Ukraine.
Ukraine said it had driven Russian forces off the Black Sea outcrop after an artillery and missile assault, with President Volodymyr Zelensky hailing a strategic win.
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