Russian loyalists clash with pro-Ukrainian protesters as they shout support for Putin's invasion

Australian-based Russian loyalists clashed with pro-Ukranian protesters and showed their support for the Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, outside the Kremlin’s Sydney embassy.

The small group of supporters gathered outside the Russian consulate repeating the regime’s propaganda, while bearing flags and insignia associated with the Russian military takeover.

The group appeared to be led by a Russian-educated pro-Putin activist Simeon Boikov, who goes by the nickname the Aussie Cossack.

He confronted several men protesting in support of Ukraine. 

Among material they proudly displayed at the gate of the Russian Embassy in, Woollahra was ‘the Russian flag of victory’.  

The pro-Putin group in Sydney also showed off the proposed flag of the self-proclaimed confederation of Novorossiya new Russia which are associated with contested territories in Ukraine. 

The group also showed off a large letter Z, which is used as a military symbol to help Russian forces identify their own tanks.    

Yesterday a crowd of about 300, including Ukrainians standing alongside Russians, , gathered in Sydney’s CBD, calling for the world’s powers to react in more certain terms, saying their country was being ‘openly bombed’ and Russian President Vladimir Putin had no regard for international law.

Ukrainian construction worker Bogdan Koldunenko said he felt ‘every rule that was in the world, all of a sudden had been broken’.

Mr Koldunenko, whose father lives in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, said his dad last night heard explosions at nearby Boryspil airport.

‘I don’t know what will happen to my father,’ he said, adding his dad’s concerns were in the ‘immediate five minutes’ and he was planning for the event of a bombing.

‘There is always the threat of a missile firing somewhere,’ Mr Koldunenko said.

‘Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons for the betterment of the world. And what does the world have to say in return?

‘We’re being openly invaded, we are being bombed. We have learned over the last few days, there are no rules to Putin.

‘He does not acknowledge rationality.’

Russian man Nikita Abamov, who was at the demonstration with Mr Koldunenko and another Ukrainian man, Artem Nosovtsev, said he felt the sanctions would only hit regular Russians and would not affect the country’s military attacks in Ukraine.

‘I think usual people, they’re going to have a really hard time,’ he said.

‘Most of the people (in Russia) are not supporting Putin. They’re trying to (go) quiet. We’re trying to find a way to protest, but it’s a little bit cautious.’

Mr Abamov said Russia had cracked down on dissent.

‘Russian forces already learn how to separate all the opposition, because every time people go into meetings, they’re going to be suspended, or they’re going to be fired from work,’ he said.

‘Or they’re going to be put into cells and beaten up.’

Anton Muratov was at the demonstration with Maryna Shaposhnikova, and said all their friends and relatives are in Ukraine.

The pair from Kharkiv, which has been hit by air strikes in recent days, said they have been contending with worrying updates as their families shelter in a basement.

‘We are waiting, because they say Russia will attack at four, which is in one hour and 15 minutes,’ Ms Shaposhnikova said.

She said her news feed has been filled with a ‘lot of fake news’.

‘It’s hard to understand what is real’, she said, adding friends and family have been ‘scared and telling people to hide’ every few minutes.

‘You are so far away and feel alienated here, but we’re trying to support them as much as we can.’

Ukraine’s capital was under bombardment in the early hours of Friday, with the skies ablaze as Vladimir Putin’s tanks moved to within 20 miles of Kyiv.

Ukraine’s deputy defense ministry said that one missile was shot out of the sky by their anti-missile defense systems. Another missile struck a residential building in the city.

A Ukrainian jet, a SU-27, was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in a separate incident, the Ukrainian government said.

The country has 125 combat-capable aircraft, including 4th-generation fighter workhorses Sukhoi Su‑27 and Mikoyan MiG‑29, according to Military Balance 2021. Russia has more than 1,500 fighter jets.

Hours earlier, President Volodymyr Zelensky raged at Western cowards who failed to come to his aid, saying his country is being ‘left alone’ to face Russian troops.

Officials warn that Kyiv will be seized this weekend.

In a video address to his nation after midnight, the president called his fallen compatriots ‘heroes’ after 137 were killed on the first day of fighting, and insisted he will stay until the bitter end.

He said: ‘They’re killing people and turning peaceful cities into military targets. It’s foul and will never be forgiven.

‘We have been left alone to defend our state. Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don’t see anyone.

‘Who is ready to give Ukraine a guarantee of NATO membership? Everyone is afraid.’

He added that the enemy has already entered Kyiv and urged residents to be vigilant and observe curfew rules, acknowledging he was ‘target number one’.

The Ukrainian capital is expected to be surrounded by Russian forces this weekend and the country’s resistance effectively crippled, US security officials fear.

Troops are already closing in on the seat of Ukrainian power after taking control of the strategic Chernobyl nuclear power plant today, and will seize it within 96 hours, bringing a ‘new Iron Curtain’ down on Europe, Zelensky warned.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Vladimir Putin plans to encircle Ukrainian forces in Kyiv and force them to either surrender or be destroyed, and the leadership of Ukraine could then fall in a week.

A former senior US intelligence officer told Newsweek: ‘After the air and artillery end and the ground war really starts, I think Kyiv falls in just a few days.

‘The military may last slightly longer but this isn’t going to last long.’ 

In a bid to thwart the imminent capture of the city, Emmanuel Macron spoke to Vladimir Putin on Thursday night, who gave the French leader an ‘exhaustive’ explanation of his justification for war.

The Kremlin said the call took place at Macron’s initiative, and he and Putin agreed to stay in contact.

Zelensky has also signed a decree on the general mobilisation of the population within 90 days, but men aged 18-60 are banned from leaving the country.

It comes after Russian forces seized control of Chernobyl nuclear power plant after a ‘fierce’ battle, with the condition of nuclear storage facilities ‘unknown’, sparking fears of a radiation leak that could cause fallout in Europe.

Video revealed Russian tanks and armoured vehicles standing in front of the destroyed reactor, which sits just 60 miles north of the capital Kyiv. 

An official said Russian shelling hit a radioactive waste repository and an increase in radiation levels was reported, although this has not yet been corroborated.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it is following the situation in Ukraine ‘with grave concern’ and appealed for maximum restraint to avoid any action that may put Ukraine’s nuclear facilities at risk.

Ukrainian presidential advisor Myhailo Podolyak said: ‘After the absolutely senseless attack of the Russians in this direction, it is impossible to say that the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe.’

Meanwhile Turkey reported that one of its ships had been hit by a ‘bomb’ off the coast of Odessa, where fighting is also going on. Turkey is a member of NATO, underlining fears that the war in Ukraine could quickly suck in other states and spark an all-out conflict in Europe.

Speaking after the latest developments, Joe Biden announced more sanctions against Russia but admitted that he had not expected previous threats of financial penalties to deter Vladimir Putin.

He also resisted calls to send in US troops to Ukraine, saying he has no plans to speak to the Russian leader who he accuses of trying to rebuild a Soviet empire.

The sanctions will target Russian banks, oligarchs, state-controlled companies and high-tech sectors, but Russian oil and natural gas were exempt in a bid to avoid disruption to global markets.

‘Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war. And now he and his country will bear the consequences,’ Biden said in remarks at the White House.

Elsewhere, Kyiv ordered civilians into bomb shelters and declared a curfew amid concerns Russia is about to strike the capital as Ukrainian troops lost control of a key airfield around 15 miles away. Russian forces had attacked it with around two dozen attack helicopters earlier in the day, four of which are thought to have been shot down.

‘They are going to bomb Kyiv now. Authorities told us to hide in shelters,’ a source in the city told MailOnline as authorities said a hospital had been hit, killing four people.

The Ukrainian army was fighting in almost every region of the country, battling the Russians for control of military bases, airports, cities and ports from Kharkiv to Kyiv, and Donetsk to Odessa.

It came after Vladimir Putin personally gave the order to attack around 5am on Thursday, unleashing a salvo of rocket fire that American intelligence said involved more than 100 short and medium-range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles, and 75 bombers that targeted military sites including barracks, warehouses and airfields in order to knock out the country’s military command structure.

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