Russia Ukraine conflict

The Kremlin calls on Russians to ‘unite’ around Putin

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The Kremlin on Friday called on Russians to rally around President Vladimir Putin, more than one week after Moscow launched an invasion of Ukraine.

“Now is not the time to be divided,” the Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, responding to a question on pleas from public figures to end the war.

“Now is the time to unite, to unite around our president,” he said.

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Since Russia sent ground troops into Ukraine last week following a plea from separatist leaders, Russian public figures have been divided on the operation.

“Yes, indeed, there are heated debates among cultural figures,” Peskov said.

“Many support the president, sincerely the president. There are those who completely misunderstand the essence of what is happening,” he added.

A number of prominent Russians are echoing a chorus of global celebrities condemning Moscow’s war on Ukraine, with some already beginning to suffer the consequences for defying the Kremlin line.

Other Russian celebrities are signaling their support. The Munich Philharmonic fired conductor and Kremlin loyalist Valery Gergiev on Tuesday after he failed to denounce Moscow’s invasion.

The Kremlin’s spokesman said Putin had no immediate plans to speak with US President Joe Biden about the conflict, and said any contact between Russian and Ukraine officials should be through conflict negotiators, not leaders.

“Now is not the time,” he said in response to a question about a possible meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskyy.

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