Russia’s President Vladimir Putin presided over a huge military parade in Moscow marking victory over the Nazis in World War Two as the war in Ukraine entered its 11th week.
Putin defended the “special operation in Ukraine” and blamed the West for the crisis. Russia “urged Europe to find a fair compromise, but they didn’t want to hear us” he said.
He accused Ukraine and the West of preparing a punitive operation in Donbas in eastern Ukraine where, he has said, Russia’s operations are now focused.
“In Kyiv they were saying they might get nuclear weapons and NATO started exploring the lands close to us and that became an obvious threat to our country and to our borders. Everything was telling us that there is a need to fight,” reasons Putin.
Putin added that “our duty is to do everything so that the horror of a global war does not happen again.”
He alluded to the war in Ukraine, saying: “Russia gave a preemptive rebuff to aggression—it was a forced and sovereign decision.”
However, Putin did not officially declare war against Ukraine nor a full mobilization as many western commentators feared.
The air portion of the Victory Day parade in Moscow has been canceled because of weather, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state-run news agency RIA Novosti.
The ceremony was due to feature 77 aircraft flying over Moscow’s Red Square to commemorate the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union defeating Nazi Germany in World War II.
In the ground portion of the parade, 131 weapons systems—including intercontinental ballistic missile launchers and T-72, T-90, and T-14 tanks—will be shown, the ministry said.
Parades have taken place in 28 Russian cities involving 65,000 people, 2,400 items of military hardware and more than 400 aircraft.
Ukraine: Putin has forgotten the peace message of the anniversary
Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky has issued a statement moments before Russia marks its Victory Day anniversary in Moscow. He says his country is fighting for a new victory, this time over Russian invaders.
“The road to it is difficult, but we have no doubt that we will win,” Zelensky said in a statement.
Russia has forgotten everything that mattered to the victors of World War II, Zelensky said Sunday. Denouncing Russia’s heavy shelling in eastern Ukraine, including one strike on a school that he says killed 60 people, he added: “Russia has forgotten everything that was important to the victors of World War II.”
While normal people associated the anniversary with peace and the slogan “Never again!” Russia was continuing its attacks, said Zelensky in his nightly address.
Eleven weeks into a devastating and costly war in Ukraine, Putin has nothing to offer his people as he prepares to celebrate the country’s national Victory Day parade, says the US ambassador to the United Nations.
“They have nothing to celebrate,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador, said of the Russians, speaking on CNN.
“They have not succeeded in defeating the Ukrainians. They have not succeeded in dividing the world or dividing NATO. And they have only succeeded in isolating themselves internationally and becoming a pariah state around the globe,” the US ambassador added.