Putin claims Russian troops ‘fighting on their own land’ in Victory Day speech

Vladimir Putin has claimed Russia was pressured to “strike back pre-emptively” towards Ukraine, including that the Kremlin’s troops had been “fighting on their own land” within the battle, simply as Soviet forces did within the second world battle.

In his speech on the annual Victory Day parade in Moscow’s Crimson Sq., the Russian president sought to justify his invasion by claiming Russia needed to defend itself towards an imminent assault. He additionally hinted that he would lay declare to extra Ukrainian territory, together with lands at the moment occupied by the Kremlin’s forces.

Putin supplied no proof for his claims. Ukraine and its allies have mentioned such accusations had no foundation in actuality and blamed the battle on what Kyiv labelled Russia’s “sick imperial ambitions”.

The Russian president gave no indication that his nation would search to mobilise its forces or declare a wider battle towards the west, which western officers and navy analysts had urged he can be pressured to do as his invasion of Ukraine continues to sputter.

However Putin’s express parallels between the Soviet victory and the present marketing campaign in Ukraine made his dedication to defeating Kyiv clear.

He has sought to make use of Russia’s traumatic reminiscence of that battle, during which 24mn Soviet residents died, to mobilise assist for the present invasion.

“The Donbas militia and the Russian army are fighting on their own land, which the heroes of the Great Patriotic War defended to the death,” mentioned Putin, referring to Kremlin-backed forces within the jap border area of Ukraine.

In contrast, in a speech shortly earlier than Putin’s deal with, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia’s management of repeating the “horrific crimes of Hitler’s regime” by waging a battle of atrocities and land grabs.

“This is not a war of two armies,” Zelensky mentioned in a video deal with. “This is a war of two world views, a war waged by barbarians.”

The Ukrainian president emphasised that thousands and thousands of Ukrainians perished and fought towards Nazi Germany throughout the second world battle and mentioned Kyiv’s willpower to withstand the Russian invasion would guarantee its victory.

“There is no occupier who can take root in our free land,” mentioned Zelensky. “There is no invader who can rule over our free people. Sooner or later, we win.”

Putin claimed that a few of the troops taking part within the Moscow parade had fought within the battle for Donbas and accused Ukraine of getting ready to “invade our historical lands”, together with Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.

He added that this had created an “absolutely unacceptable threat for us directly on our borders” that meant a conflict with what he known as US-backed “neo-Nazis” was inevitable.

“Russia struck back pre-emptively against the aggression. This was a forced, timely and the only correct decision for a sovereign, strong and self-sufficient country,” he mentioned.

Ukrainian officers had suspected that Putin would use the anniversary to wind down the battle by declaring Russia had gained a victory by capturing the important thing port metropolis of Mariupol within the Donbas or annexing elements of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia areas in southern Ukraine.

However a sequence of battlefield setbacks pressured Putin to withdraw his armies from central Ukraine after an obvious plan to grab Kyiv in a blitzkrieg and topple the federal government failed.

A refocused offensive to take the Donbas has additionally up to now not produced a breakthrough as Russia’s forces proceed to maintain heavy casualties.

Reacting to Putin’s speech on Monday, Ukraine’s international minister Dmytro Kuleba mentioned he “saw a man who is obsessed with the idea of the war”.

“It means that he prefers war to diplomacy, and that mean . . . we have to work on weapons, sanctions, the isolation of Russia and financial support for Ukraine to keep the country [economically] running and fighting,” Kuleba mentioned.

Though the parade included a present of Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missiles, Putin’s message to the west was extra restrained than in different latest speeches during which he has made thinly veiled threats of nuclear retaliation towards the west for aiding Ukraine.

Putin mentioned the west had “decided to cancel . . . thousand-year values” of patriotism and added that its “moral degradation has become the foundation for cynic falsifications of history of [the] second world war, spreading Russophobia, praising traitors, mocking the memory of their victims and crossing out the bravery of those who achieved and suffered for victory”.

Talking in London shortly afterwards, UK defence secretary Ben Wallace responded by saying that Putin was “mirroring [in Ukraine] the fascism and tyranny” that Russia helped defeat within the second world battle.

“The Russian president has made a number of fairytale claims for months and years now,” mentioned Wallace. “For the record, Nato, Britain, eastern Europe are not planning to invade Russia and never have done.”

Extra reporting by John-Paul Rathbone in London

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