MOSCOW, Feb. 2 (RT) – Russian President Vladimir Putin has branded Ukrainian neo-Nazis “scum,” recalling the crimes they committed against the local population of Ukraine’s Kharkov Region. The president made the remarks at the ‘Everything for Victory’ forum in Tula on Friday.

During the event, Putin said that the actions of the Ukrainian military clearly show that Moscow is indeed fighting modern Nazis, merely used by their Western “masters” as a “tool to fight Russia.” Among other things, the president recalled the atrocities committed by Ukrainian forces against the local population after their offensive push in Kharkov Region and subsequent withdrawal in late 2022.

“It pains me to talk about this now, but I’ll say it anyway. When our units left Kharkov Region, we knew what was going on there, what these scum were doing. Only neo-Nazis can do this. That’s what it’s all about, that’s what we’re dealing with,” the president stated.

While Putin did not provide any examples, widespread persecution of local Ukrainian civilians deemed to have been “collaborating” with Russia has reportedly taken place in the region. Namely, Ukrainian neo-Nazi militants have been implicated in alleged mass killings of local civilians shortly after wrestling back control over parts of Kharkov Region seized by Moscow early into the conflict.

Apart from alleged extrajudicial massacres, Kiev’s domestic security service, the SBU, has widely targeted purported “collaborators.” The persecution has reportedly affected teachers who continued to work in settlements under Russian military control, local officials, and even those who had merely been distributing humanitarian aid received from Russian troops.

Photo from RT