Putin praises Russian national flag, self-determination

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin on Monday praised the Russian flag as a symbol of a country determined to defend its interests and remain true to traditional values.

In a video speech on the occasion of National Flag Day, Putin did not mention Russia’s six-month-old military operation in Ukraine, but reiterated some of the justifications put forward for sending troops.

“The desire to live according to your will, to choose your own path and follow it, has become part of the genetic code of our people,” he said. “We are determined to pursue in the international arena only those policies that respond to the fundamental interests of the mother country.”

Putin and other officials have said Russia has sent troops to Ukraine as an effective protective measure against the advancing West.

Putin also said that Russian schools starting in September will open their school weeks with ceremonies of raising flags and singing the national anthem.

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