Russians place flowers at burnt out tanks in Baltic cities

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Burnt-out Russian tanks seized by Ukrainian forces final 12 months have gone on show in current days within the capitals of the three Baltics states, the place Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians are turning out to view them and snap pictures in sympathy with the Ukrainians defending their homeland.

However amongst these visiting the tanks are additionally members of the nations’ sizeable ethnic Russian minorities, a few of whom positioned flowers and lit candles to commemorate the fallen Russian troopers and specific assist for Moscow.

The Russian gestures of assist for Russia’s facet within the struggle have set off some arguments, and no less than one fist struggle in Vilnius — underlining the tensions which are simmering within the Baltic nations between the Baltic majorities and the nations’ sizeable Russian minorities.

On Wednesday, supporters and opponents of the struggle argued in entrance of a burned-out Russian T-72 tank struck by Ukrainian forces close to Kyiv on March 31. It stands on Freedom Sq. within the middle of the Estonian capital, an area adorned with Ukrainian and Estonian flags and the place the Ukrainian anthem could possibly be heard from close by St. John’s Church.

The Estonian Protection Ministry on Saturday known as the tank “a logo of Russia’s brutal invasion. It additionally reveals that the aggressor may be defeated. Let’s assist Ukraine defend freedom.”

Final week, Ukrainian Protection Minister Oleksii Reznikov introduced that the tanks have been occurring show within the three Baltic capitals, and to Berlin as museum displays, following comparable shows in Poland and the Czech Republic final 12 months.

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Anatoly Yarkov, a 78-year-old Soviet military veteran who confirmed as much as see the tank in Tallinn, mentioned that he feels bitter about Ukraine preventing towards Russia in a struggle that he mentioned had been rooted within the 1991 collapse of the USSR.

“Russian tanks are burning once more prefer it occurred in the course of the struggle with the Nazis,” Yarkov mentioned. “The Russian individuals at all times stood towards the Nazis, it doesn’t matter what flag they used. And I’m very sorry to see that the Ukrainians aren’t on our facet at the moment.”

Russian authorities officers, together with President Vladimir Putin, have promoted a false narrative that Moscow’s navy is preventing towards neo-Nazis despite the fact that Ukraine has a Jewish president who misplaced kin within the Holocaust and who heads a Western-backed, democratically-elected authorities.

As some Russians positioned flowers on the tank in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, the town authorities put a rubbish container within the neighborhood with an indication saying it’s “for flowers, candles & Soviet nostalgia.”

Not all Russians are taking Moscow’s facet.

Marina, a 60-year-old Russian citizen who didn’t give her final identify for causes of private safety, mentioned she condemned the invasion of Ukraine and hailed Ukrainians for preventing again.

“This Russian tank might have rolled into the Estonian metropolis of Narva, which Putin may need declared a Russian metropolis,” she mentioned, including that her youngsters and grandchildren have Estonian citizenship. “And I perceive very properly that solely heroic resistance of the Ukrainians saved my youngsters from that bloody state of affairs unfolding in Estonia.”

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Additionally visiting the tanks are Ukrainians who’ve been changed into refugees by the struggle.

Anastasia Olezhko, an 18-year-old who fled the Ukrainian metropolis of Mariupol when Russian tanks fired on the town, mentioned that “I noticed such Russian tanks, and one in all them destroyed my home in Mariupol, of which solely the inspiration was left.”

“How might I really feel about it?” she exclaimed.

In Berlin, the tank additionally turned a web site of homage. Professional-Russia sympathizers positioned purple roses on a destroyed tank that was displayed in entrance of the Russian Embassy. The roses have been ultimately eliminated. The Russian Embassy denied that it had organized the location of the flowers, however mentioned that it welcomed the “heartfelt gesture by German residents and our compatriots in Germany.”


Vanessa Gera reported from Warsaw, Poland. Frank Jordans contributed to this report from Berlin.


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