The President of Russia, Vladimir Putindefended this Monday the offensive in Ukraine and criticized kyiv and Western countries, while seeking to feed the patriotism of the population and its support for the campaign on Victory Day.
In a speech at the start of the annual grand military parade in Moscow’s Red Square commemorating the Soviet victory over the Nazis in 1945, Putin said his army was fighting in Ukraine to defend the “motherland” against the “unacceptable threat” posed by its neighbor, supported by the West.
I address our armed forces: you are fighting for the country, for your future,” the president said.
Two and a half months after having deployed its forces in Ukraine, the fighting is concentrated in the east of the country. Russia had to lower its ambitions to quickly take over the country and the capital in the face of fierce resistance from Ukrainian troops, armed by Western countries.
The Russian president places the conflict in Ukraine on the same lines as in 1945 and does not cease to describe the adversary as a neo-Nazi.
Before the thousands of soldiers who participated in the parade, Putin once again justified his decision to launch the offensive against Ukraine on February 24, alleging that kyiv was preparing an attack against pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, wanted to get hold of the atomic bomb and was supported by the NATO.
“A totally unacceptable threat was building, right on our borders,” he said, again accusing the neighboring country of neo-Nazism and calling the offensive a “preemptive response.” It was the “only right decision” possible, he added.
The “Z” symbol
Since the coming to power of Vladimir Putin In 2000, the traditional May 9 parade celebrates both the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany and the might of Russia after the humiliation of the fall of the USSR.
In Moscow, the security forces, deployed along the route of the march in the center of the city, wore the letter “Z” on their right shoulders, which has become a symbol of supporters of the offensive in Ukraine, since it is painted on the vehicles of the units in the conflict.
In the Novosibirsk parade, in Siberia, vehicles of the WWIIalso with a “Z”, toured the city.
Putin has made May 9 a patriotic date for Russians, even though the USSR lost 27 million of its citizens in the war.
Faced with this terrible balance, the Russian president on Monday pointed out Russia’s duty to avoid another world conflict.
Our duty is to save the memory of those who crushed Nazism (…) and do everything possible so that the horror of a new world war does not happen again,” he said.
After his speech, 11,000 soldiers, dozens of vehicles — including strategic missile launchers — paraded through Red Square. Units returning from the Ukrainian front also participated.
The aerial part had to be suspended due to bad weather. The “Apocalypse plane”, the Il-80, was planned to fly, specially designed to allow the Russian president to continue to lead the country from the air in the event of a nuclear war.
According to the Moscow city authorities, one million people are expected to attend the celebration.