Putin Defends Ukraine Invasion While Scoring WWII Victory

“You are fighting for the fatherland,” the Russian leader told his troops.

LONDON — At a military parade in Moscow on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed his troops fighting in neighboring Ukraine, but gave little information on his next steps.

“You are fighting for the fatherland, for its future, so that no one forgets the lessons of World War II,” Putin said in a patriotic speech for Victory Day, a national holiday in Russia commemorating the defeat of the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany in World War II.

Columns of Russian soldiers marched through Moscow’s Red Square, alongside tanks and other military vehicles carrying huge intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“Now here in Red Square, soldiers and officers from many parts of our vast homeland stand side by side, including those who came straight from Donbass, straight from the battle zone,” Putin said.

Putin launched a “special military operation” in neighboring Ukraine on February 24, with Russian forces invading from Belarus in the north and Russia in the east. They quickly reached the outskirts of kyiv, but ultimately failed to capture the Ukrainian capital and other major northern cities. Russian forces have met strong resistance from Ukrainian troops, despite weeks of relentless shelling that decimated entire neighborhoods and claimed civilian lives.

The Russian military announced on March 29 that it would reduce its activities in the north around kyiv and Chernihiv and instead focus its efforts on the “liberation” of the disputed region of Donbass in the east, which is home to a majority population. Russian-speaking. Russian-backed separatist forces have controlled two breakaway republics in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in eastern Ukraine since 2014, following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. On April 18, the Russian military launched a large-scale ground offensive in the Donbass in an attempt to seize the strategic port city of Mariupol and secure a coastal corridor to Crimea.

Although he showed no signs of backing down, Putin made no declaration of war, peace or victory during his remarks on Monday. He drew parallels between Soviet soldiers fighting Nazi troops and Russian forces currently fighting in Ukraine, as he vowed to “denazify” Ukraine. He also spoke of Donbass as if it was already part of Russia.

“These days you are fighting for our people in Donbass. For the security of our homeland, Russia,” he said. “You stand up for what fathers and grandfathers, great-grandfathers fought for.”

Putin accused Ukraine of seeking nuclear weapons and planning a “punitive operation in the Donbass, for an invasion of our historic lands, including Crimea”. He also blamed the West for refusing to have “an honest dialogue” over Russia’s demands for formal guarantees that Ukraine will never join NATO and that the alliance will withdraw its forces from the countries. from Eastern Europe who joined after the Cold War.

“Thus, an absolutely unacceptable threat has been systematically created for us and directly at our borders,” Putin added. “The danger grew every day.”

The Russian leader claimed that attacking the former Soviet republic “was a forced, timely and just decision – the decision of a sovereign, strong and independent country”.

“Russia preemptively repelled aggression,” he said.

Just hours before Putin’s remarks, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky released a video message marking the 1945 victory over the Nazis, telling his country that “very soon there will be two Victory Days in Ukraine.”

“Today we celebrate the day of victory over Nazism. And we will not give anyone a single piece of our history,” Zelenskyy said. “We are proud of our ancestors who, together with other nations of the anti-Hitler coalition, defeated Nazism. And we will not allow anyone to annex this victory, we will not allow it to be appropriated.”

“On the day of victory over Nazism, we are fighting for another victory,” he added. “The road to it is difficult, but we have no doubt that we will overcome.”

ABC News

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