Putin lauds Russian national flag, self-determination

MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin on Monday lauded Russia’s flag as a symbol of a country that is determined to defend its interests and remain loyal to traditional values.

In a video address marking National Flag Day, Putin did not mention Russia’s six-month-old military operation in Ukraine, but echoed some of the justifications cited for sending in troops.

“The desire to live according to one’s will, to choose one’s own path and follow it, has become part of the genetic code of our people,” he said. “We are firm in pursuing in the international arena only those policies that meet the fundamental interests of the motherland.”

Putin and other officials have said Russia sent troops into Ukraine as effectively a protective measure against the encroaching West.

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

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