Putin evokes Stalingrad to predict victory in Ukraine

STORY: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday evoked a famous World War Two victory over the Nazis to rally his nation over the nearly year-long invasion of Ukraine, while officials in Kyiv warned of an ominous new attack.

Speaking in Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, where the Soviet army defeated Nazi forces in a pivotal battle 80 years ago, Putin lambasted Germany for helping to arm Ukraine, and said again that he was ready to draw on Russia's entire arsenal, which includes nuclear weapons.

PUTIN: "Those who are betting they will defeat Russia on the battlefield clearly don't understand that modern war with Russia will be quite different for them. We don't send our tanks to their borders, but we have the means to respond, and it won't end with the use of armoured vehicles."

As Putin celebrated, rescue workers in Ukraine Thursday tended to civilians wounded when a Russian missile destroyed apartments in Kramatorsk, killing at least three people and trapping others under rubble, according to police.

Moscow has routinely denied targeting civilians.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged European leaders visiting Kyiv on Thursday to strengthen sanctions on Russia, warning that Putin was gathering forces and planning a major attack.

"We all know that Russia is concentrating its forces for a revenge attempt not only against Ukraine but also against the free Europe and free world. In order to defeat such an enemy, success on the battlefield alone is not enough."

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday the EU would turn up the pressure on Russia.

The West has imposed sweeping punitive measures since Russia's nearly year-old invasion of Ukraine that has devastated cities, killed tens of thousands of people, forced millions to flee their homes and shaken the global economy.

Von der Leyen said there would be more military, financial and political aid before the Feb. 24 invasion anniversary. She also announced the creation of an international center in The Hague to prosecute crimes of aggression in Ukraine.