FURIOUS Russians protesting Vladimir Putin’s violent invasion of Ukraine have scrawled graffiti comparing their hardman President to Nazi monster Adolf Hitler.
Demonstrations against Russia‘s leader have spread around the world in the wake of two days of fierce fighting, which have led to the killing or capture of at least 2,800 Russian soldiers.
After more than 1,500 people were detained following mass protests in Russia, a demonstrator scrawled “Adolf Putin” on the wall of an underground station in Saint Petersburg, the Russian President’s hometown.
In the capital Moscow, protesters carried placards reading “No war. Putin, go away,” and posters comparing him to Hitler.
It comes as the European Union said on Friday that Vladimir Putin‘s actions were comparable to those of the Nazis during World War Two.
“He is talking about de-Nazifying Ukraine, but he behaves like Nazis. So this is all in his head,” EU spokesman Peter Stano told reporters in Brussels.
Stano was asked about Putin’s supposed war aims, including his repeated claim that Russia’s invasion was to prevent a “genocide” against Russian speakers in Ukraine.
“He’s always saying something about preventing genocide, which is total nonsense because he is committing one or he is about to commit one,” Stano said.
Among the high-profile Russian critics of Putin’s war is the daughter of Chelsea’s owner Roman Abramovich.
Sofia Abramovich, 27, posted an Instagram picture that read: “Putin wants a war with Ukraine,” crossing out the word Russia.
“The biggest and most successful lie of Kremlin’s propaganda is that most Russian stand with Putin [sic],” the post went on.
Protests broke out on the streets of more than 50 major Russian cities just hours after Putin’s shells started falling, with support for war with Ukraine seemingly far lower than it was when Russia annexed the Crimea in 2014.
In a remarkable show of defiance in a country where anti-government protesters are frequently branded traitors, huge crowds faced down riot police.
However, experts believe far more widespread protests will be needed if they are to have a significant impact.
“The government can put down nearly any protest at this point,” Russian political expert Tatyana Stanovaya told The Guardian.
“In order for the situation to become serious, many more people would have to come out than did so [on Thursday].”
Nobel Prize-winning Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov said the thought of war is deeply unpopular for most Russians.
“The memory of the [Second World] war and that people have relatives in Ukraine, and that Ukraine is a dear country to us, it holds back even the most rabid supporters of the current leadership,” he said.
“There is no enthusiasm for this.”
There is no enthusiasm for this [war]
On Thursday, a video of a brave Ukrainian woman confronting Russian soldiers went viral, as she demanded to know “why the f***” they had invaded her country.
Protests against Russian aggression have taken place in cities across the world.
Demonstrators in Edinburgh wrote “mass murder” in red graffiti on the side of a Russian visa application.
A car carrying Russia’s ambassador to the Republic of Ireland was surrounded by an angry chanting crowd as it tried to enter the Russian embassy compound in Dublin.
In New York, a group gathered outside the Russian Consulate carrying placards.
Latest in Ukraine…
Russian forces on Friday entered the outskirts of Kyiv, threatening the city of 3m people from the northwest and east.
The Russian Defence Ministry claimed its forces had seized the strategic target of Anotov airport around 20 miles northwest of the city centre.
Russian tanks were filmed in the Obolonskyi district just six miles north of the city centre on Friday morning.
On Friday night, sirens were heard above Kyiv for the second night in a row, with blasts shaking the city once more.
Kyiv’s mayor, former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko warned that Friday night would be “very difficult” for his city after five explosions were heard, including one near a power station.
A defiant Putin urged Ukraine’s army to overthrow its leadership, branding the government of President Zelenskyy a “gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis who has lodged itself in Kyiv and taken hostage the entire Ukrainian people”.
Zelenskyy has urged the international community to help, after further sanctions were announced against Moscow, and pleaded for military assistance.
“When bombs fall on Kyiv, it happens in Europe, not just in Ukraine,” he said. When missiles kill our people, they kill all Europeans.”
Friday’s attacks on Ukraine from Russia have “been more brutal”, Kyiv’s ambassador to the US, Oksana Markarova, said, although she said Russian forces had not advanced as planned.
“The enemy is clearly surprised by the result of the armed forces and volunteers to protect the integrity of our country,” she said from Washington DC.
NATO has announced it will deploy extra troops in eastern Europe, although the UK has warned it will not send any troops, over fears of an “existential” war between Russia and the West.
Russia has also been banned from competing in this year’s Eurovision song contest after organisers said its inclusion could “bring the competition into disrepute”.
Late on Friday, a spokesman for President Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s leader and Vladimir Putin are discussing a place and time to hold peace talks.
The spokesperson said Ukraine is ready to talk about a possible ceasefire with Russia.
Earlier today, the US State Department cast doubt on possible Russian plans for diplomacy, calling on the Kremlin to end the bombing of Ukraine first.
“Now we see Moscow suggesting that diplomacy takes place at the barrel of a gun, or as Moscow’s rockets, mortars, artillery target the Ukrainian people,” spokesperson Ned Price said.
“This is not real diplomacy. Those are not the conditions for real diplomacy.”