Russian President Vladimir Putin compared Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to the fight against Nazi Germany, in a speech commemorating the end of World War II.
In a speech at the annual Victory Day parade in Moscow’s Red Square, Putin said Russia had no choice but to “strike back preemptively” against Ukraine. He claimed – without evidence – that NATO was planning to attack what he called Russia’s “historic lands,” including Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Ukraine has always denied planning to attack its much larger neighbour.
Russian soldiers march during the Victory Day parade. Photo: Contributor/Getty Images
Prior to his speech, there had been widespread expectation from Western analysts that Putin would announce a general mobilisation or even declare a victory in order to begin withdrawing some forces. But Putin mainly just went through his back catalogue of justifications for invading Ukraine – which he never mentioned by name – and did not give any assessment of progress in the war.
Once again he cited unfounded claims that Ukraine’s government was run by neo-Nazis, and that a conflict with them was inevitable.
Around 11,000 Russian soldiers marched in formation during the parade, which also featured tanks and armoured vehicles. But a planned military flypast was cancelled due to weather conditions, despite it being a sunny day in the Russian capital with no adverse weather conditions.
A Russian intercontinental ballistic missile is rolled through Red Square during today's parade. Photo: Contributor/Getty Images
Putin said that some soldiers who had been fighting in Ukraine were among those watching on in Red Square. He said that they were “fighting for the same thing their fathers and grandfathers did,” in a bid to tie his war of aggression in Ukraine to the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted his own Victory Day speech, in a video filmed in central Kyiv.
“Very soon there will be two Victory Days in Ukraine,” he said. “We have never fought against anyone. We always fight for ourselves... We are fighting for freedom for our children, and therefore we will win.”