Vladimir Putin is plotting to use chemical weapons in Ukraine and blame the attack on Kyiv, it has been claimed.
US President Joe Biden last night warned that Russia is prepping new “false flag” attacks in Ukraine – an act that deliberately disguises the perpetrator then uses fake news to spin a false narrative around it.
Although Putin has already carried out numerous false flags in Ukraine in a feeble attempt to justify his savage invasion, he has recently started repeatedly lying about the country having chemical weapons.
“They are also suggesting that Ukraine has biological and chemical weapons in Ukraine… That’s a clear sign he’s considering using both of those”, Biden said at an event in Washington DC yesterday.
The fears come as pro-Kremlin media accidentally revealed the true Russian death toll in a major PR blunder – before quickly attempting to cover up the revelation.
State-controlled media outlet Komsomolskaya Pravda made the shock revelation that 9,861 Russian soldiers have died in Ukraine and 16,153 were injured.
Prior to this report, Putin had been covering up the true death toll and the Russian people had been given no update since being told 498 Russians had died on March 2.
The report was quickly taken down though several screenshots were taken including by The Week, forcing Komsomolskaya Pravda to embarrassingly claim their website had been hacked.
Follow our Russia-Ukraine live blog below for up-to-the-minute updates…
‘I’ll shout ‘God save the Queen’ when I fire Brit-donated weapon’, Ukrainian commander reveals
BATTLE-hardened commander Lt Col Valeriy Kurko sips his coffee and praises the tank-busting weaponry donated from Britain.
He says of the shoulder-fired NLAW — Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon: “If I get to press the button I would shout God Save the Queen!”
The burly warrior, 51, may need all his fighting prowess.
For if Belarus enters the war from the north or Russian forces head west it’s Kurko and his men — based here in Lviv — who they will run into.
Kurko, the commander of the 103rd brigade of the Territorial Defence Force, added: “I’m ready to fight for my homeland and to defend our territory.”
The Sun Says: Nato must back Ukraine unwaveringly with our words, sanctions and weapons
THE West must not give Putin an inch, any more than the Allies did Hitler, The Sun’s editorial page read today.
That means backing Ukraine’s President Zelensky all the way in his refusal to surrender – and giving him every tool to defeat this heinous enemy.
Read the full Sun Says column by clicking here.
Googlebox star slams Homes for Ukraine scheme
GOGGLEBOX star Mica Ven has criticised the UK government’s Homes for Ukraine scheme.
The scheme allows UK residents to sponsor and offer accommodation to Ukrainians fleeing the war for a minimum of six months.
In return hosts will receive a £350-a-month tax-free payment.
Reality star Mica questioned why similar schemes weren’t set up during other conflicts.
She said to partner Marcus during Friday night’s episode: “Not being funny, this isn’t the first refugee situation, you know what I mean?
“How come only now there’s incentives to encourage people to help refugees?”
She clarified that she hadn’t meant to discredit the scheme but wanted highlight other humanitarian crises and victims.
Why is Russia invading Ukraine?
Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously stated that Russia had no plans to attack Ukraine, and, in December 2021, armed forces chief Valery Gerasimov even denounced reports of an impending invasion as a lie.
He said that more than 95 per cent of Moscow’s ground-based strategic nuclear forces are “kept in constant readiness for combat use”.
These statements were overturned on February 24, 2022, when he launched an invasion into Ukraine.
Putin is believed to want to reclaim many territories lost at the fall of the Soviet Union.
He first made inroads into Ukraine back in 2014 when Russian troops illegally annexed the Crimea peninsula – sparking international condemnation.
Conflict has raged in Eastern Ukraine ever since as Putin backed-rebels began fighting against the Ukrainian government in the disputed Donbas region.
And on February 21, 2022, Putin signed a decree recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk rebel republic.
Weeks earlier, British nationals were told to leave Ukraine while commercial routes were still open as tensions in the region rose.
The vulnerable groups of women are said to have been targeted in the areas around Kyiv, in Bucha and Irpin.
Maria Mezentseva, Ukrainian MP for Servant of the People Party, added: “The ladies who were raped and suffered sexual violence, some of them were also hanged.
“These are the facts we are gathering for evidence on war crimes and to take to the ECHR.”
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba previously alleged there have been reports of Putin’s soldiers sexually assaulting Ukrainian women.
He told a briefing at Chatham House: “We have numerous cases of, unfortunately, when Russian soldiers rape women in the Ukrainian cities.”
Russian troops ‘raping women and killing families’
Russian troops are allegedly raping women and slaughtering families hiding in their basements as they rampage through Ukrainian cities.
Anastasia Taran, 30, has accused Putin’s brutal soldiers of raping women in the Russian-occupied city of Irpin – which has been under attack from Russia’s invading forces for nearly a month.
Ukraine’s foreign minister previously confirmed there had been reports of Putin’s soldiers sexually assaulting Ukrainian women.
Anastasia said Russian troops have been storming basements and shooting terrified families as fierce fighting continues in Irpin.
The former waitress, who has lived in the Kyiv suburb for four years, said: “Irpin is hell. There are plenty of Russian soldiers out there who just shoot people who enter private homes and, at best, just kick people out of their homes.
“They rape women and the dead are just being dumped. They open the basements where people are hiding and shoot them.”
Pro-Stalin general was involved in Litvinenko murder
In 2006 it was claimed that Bortnikov was involved in the operation to assassinate Alexander Litvinenko.
Former KGB spy Litvinenko had defected to the UK, where he worked to expose the corrupt practices of the Kremlin before he was poisoned with polonium.
Bortnikov has also been criticised for being too pro-Stalin.
He came under fire in 2017 from more than 30 academics who claimed that he was legitimising the mass purges carried out under Joseph Stalin known as the Great Terror.
At the time, he said archives show that “a significant part” of the criminal cases of those killed “had an objective side to them”.
He said he did not want to “whitewash anyone” but pointed to “links of coup plotters to foreign security agencies”.
Who is Alexander Bortnikov?
Alexander Bortnikov is the current director of Russia’s FSB – making him one of the most powerful people in Russia and as an influential member of Putin’s inner circle.
Like Putin, he is a former officer of the KGB and first met Putin while the pair were stationed together in Leningrad – now Saint Petersburg – in the 1970s.
Since stepping into the might role in 2008, the terrifying spymaster is said to have turned the FSB into the “punishing sword” of Putin’s regime.
The organisation is both the brain and the heart of Putin’s government and behaves like a “state within the state”, according to the Dossier Center.
Not long after Putin was appointed acting president, Bortnikov was first made head of Russia’s Economic Security Service, wielding huge power and leverage.
He is also one of a small handful of people in Russia to earn the rank of Army General.
Who could replace Putin if Russian leader is taken out?
FROM allegedly having a hand in the poisoning of his own spies to
The Ukrainian intelligence service claims to have uncovered a plot from a small band of Putin’s closest aides to dethrone the president.
The powerful insiders are said to be dismayed at the ramifications of the war and the sanctions imposed on the Russian economy.
And the plotters are reportedly considering all options to wipe out Putin – including poisoning him or faking an accident.
If Putin is successfully toppled, his 70-year-old former sidekick and spymaster Alexander Bortnikov, who has been sanctioned by the US, is reportedly in pole position to replace him.
Footage from the aftermath of the attack on protesters in Kherson appeared to show at least one civilian laid on the ground bleeding heavily.
Local media confirmed later that the one person reported wounded at the scene was the man on video.
In one of the videos, civilians are seen running away through smoke-filled streets as Russian soldiers walk towards them firing their rifles into the air.
The smoke may have been tear gas while the loud bangs are thought to have been caused by flashbang grenades.
Ukrainian media reported that a memorial located in the centre of the square had been defaced with graffiti.
The vandals wrote a message accusing Ukrainian forces of being “murderers of the children of Donbas” and that locals had been trying to clean it.
What’s happening in Kherson?
Kherson, around 60 miles northwest of Crimea, was the first significant Ukrainian city to be occupied by Russian forces.
There have been regular large civilian demonstrations against the occupiers, with Russian troops struggling to keep control.
Horror attacks on protesters in Kherson
Heavy gunfire could be heard for over a minute as smoke spread across Svobody Square in the occupied city of Kherson.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister said: “In Kherson, Russian war criminals opened fire at unarmed people who peacefully protested against invaders.
“This is the ugly face of Russia, a disgrace to humankind. We must stop Russia! Sanction them, isolate them, hold war criminals to account.”
Ukraine’s armed forces’ press service added in a statement: “Russian security forces ran up, started throwing stun grenades into the crowd and shooting.”
Russia – Ukraine explained
These latest explainer articles from The Sun will provide everything you need to know about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine…
Civilians under attack
THIS is the shocking moment Russian troops were caught on video opening fire and hurling stun grenades at unarmed civilians.
Russian forces occupying Kherson, Ukraine, used stun grenades and gunfire to disperse a rally of protesters as they gathered in Svobody Square.
Multiple videos on social media showed crowds gathering in the square today before loud bangs and flashes followed by intense gunfire caused them to flee.
It is unclear if the soldiers initially fired into the sky, but they are believed to have turned their guns on civilians, reports The Telegraph.
Russian spy chief also among the dead
A Russian spy captain has been killed during a “top-secret” operation in Ukraine
GRU military intelligence spy Captain Alexey Glushchak, 31, from Tyumen in Siberia, died in the carnage in Mariupol.
The GRU was behind the poisoning of defected spy Sergei Skripal with Novichok in Salisbury.
Pictures emerged of father-of-one Glushchak’s funeral in Russia, where he was buried with full military honours and a guard of honour.
On the day the military intelligence officer died he had spoken to both his wife and mother in Russia, it was revealed.
He called to congratulate them on International Women’s Day but on the same day in the evening they learned he had been killed.
Russia’s top commanders among the dead (4 of 5)
Last Wednesday, Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said Kyiv’s forces had killed Major General Oleg Mityaev.
He commanded the 150th motorized rifle division, which he had led since 2020.
And Major General Andrei Kolesnikov was also reportedly killed.
Russia’s top commanders among the dead (4 of 5)
Vitaly Gerasimov was another top Russian commander to be killed.
Ukraine’s Defence Ministry said Gerasimov, chief of staff of the 41st Army, was killed alongside other senior officers outside the eastern city of Kharkiv.
Gerasimov was awarded a medal for “capturing” the disputed province of Crimea in 2014, and also received medals after leading troops in Syria and in the second Chechen war.
Russia’s top commanders among the dead (3 of 5)
Meanwhile Russia confirmed the death of Colonel Sergei Sukharev of the 331st Guards Parachute Assault Regiment on Friday.
The elite paratroop commander died following fierce fighting near Hostomel.
Earlier his “liquidation” had been claimed by Ukraine’s Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security.
His deputy Major Sergei Krylov was killed alongside him, said the report.
They were among a number slain from the “glorious” Kostroma regiment, seen as among Russia’s most elite fighting forces.
Russia’s top commanders among the dead (2 of 5)
Lieutenant General Andrei Mordvichev – the commander of the 8th General Army – died during fighting on Friday night in a fresh blow to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
It’s thought the military boss was killed in the Russian-controlled Kherson Airport, which has been hit with Ukranian strikes in the past few days.
A statement from the army general staff in Kyiv read: “As a result of fire on the enemy by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the commander of the 8th All-Military Army of the Southern Military District of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Lieutenant-General Andrey Mordvishev was killed.”
Russia’s top commanders among the dead (1 of 5)
Among the Russian dead are five generals as well as other senior commanders, including those from elite paratrooper units.
The latest senior officer to die is the deputy commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in another damaging blow to Vladimir Putin’s forces.
First rank captain Andrey Paliy, 51, is the first senior Russian naval official to be killed in the war with Ukraine so far.
He was reportedly involved with Russian marine attacks near the port city of Mariupol when he died, although the exact circumstances of his reported death are not known.
Moscow is yet to officially acknowledge his death, but it appeared to be confirmed by fellow Russian Konstantin Tsarenko, secretary of the public council at Sevastopol Nakhimov Naval School.
What’s the true Russian death toll in Ukraine?
Ukraine claims to have killed around 15,000 Russians and destroyed large quantities of equipment.
But US intelligence puts the figure slightly lower at between 7,000 and 10,000, with 21,000 injured.
That second number is closer to the leaked death toll that Komsomolskaya Pravda raced to remove its website after accidentally revealing the Kremlin’s numbers.
It is reported that Russia is secretly transporting corpses of fallen Russian soldiers home at night on trains and ambulances via Belarus, to try and hide the true scale of the death toll.
Kremlin’s major death toll blunder
RUSSIA has admitted it has lost nearly 10,000 troops in its invasion of Ukraine.
The previously undisclosed figure was revealed by a pro-Kremlin newspaper and lays bare the true cost of Vladimir Putin’s disastrous invasion.
The Russian tyrant expected a swift victory when he ordered the invasion but his forces have met stiff Ukrainian resistance and could even soon buckle.
Russia has kept its true death toll under wraps and on March 2 admitted to just 498 deaths.
But in an extraordinary move, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that according to the Russian defence ministry 9,861 Russian soldiers have died in Ukraine and 16,153 injured.
The report was quickly taken down though several screenshots were taken including by the Wall Street Journal.
Here are The Sun’s must-read stories on Ukraine this morning:
This is John Hall taking over The Sun’s live coverage of the war in Ukraine.
Lomachenko refuses to leave Ukrainian front line
Heroic boxing star Vasyl Lomachenko has decided to keep fighting on the Ukrainian front line after turning down a world title bout to face George Kambosos Jr.
The three-weight world champion, 34, is one of a number of Ukrainian sporting icons that have joined the fight to defend their nation following Russia’s invasion.
And the two-time Olympic gold medallist is refusing to leave the country as he has elected to keep fighting on the battlefield instead of in the boxing ring.
It was reported last week how Lomachenko’s team were looking to pull him out of Ukraine so he can prepare for a showdown against unbeaten Australian ace Kambosos Jr in June.
But the lightweight contest will have to wait with Kambosos Jr tweeting Lomachenko to ‘stay safe’ as he paid his respect to his rival.