Politics

Putin says Russia defending ‘Motherland’ as Ukraine war rages


Fierce battles raged in jap Ukraine whereas Putin made his Victory Day speech in opposition to a backdrop of intercontinental ballistic missiles rumbling via Moscow’s emblematic Red Square.

Russian President Vladimir Putin provides a speech through the Victory Day navy parade at Red Square in central Moscow on 9 May 2022. Picture: Mikhail METZEL/SPUTNIK/AFP

KYIV – President Vladimir Putin on Monday defended Russia’s struggle in Ukraine as needed to guard the “Motherland” as Moscow flexed its navy muscle at an enormous parade marking the 1945 Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.

Fierce battles raged in jap Ukraine whereas Putin made his Victory Day speech in opposition to a backdrop of intercontinental ballistic missiles rumbling via Moscow’s emblematic Red Square.

Ukrainians and Westerners accused Putin of exploiting the World War II anniversary, with protesters in Warsaw tossing blood-red paint on the Russian ambassador, chanting “fascists!” and hoisting a Ukrainian flag, as he visited a cemetery.

But Putin sought to channel Russian delight for what he has described as a “special military operation” to “de-Nazify” Ukraine, which is led by an elected Jewish president.

Putin blamed the West and Ukraine for the two-and-a-half-month battle, telling the parade that Russia confronted an “absolutely unacceptable threat” and warning in opposition to the “horror of a global war”.

“You are fighting for the Motherland, for its future, so that no one forgets the lessons of the Second World War,” he mentioned.

The celebration in Red Square additionally featured some 11,000 troops and greater than 130 navy automobiles, though a deliberate navy flypast was cancelled.

“Nobody could have imagined that 77 years later, fascist forces, Nazi forces would come back to life, killing civilians, butchering Russians into pieces,” Anastasia Rybina, a participant, advised AFP.

“Putin conducts politics so well, well done to him. He makes sure that our boys don’t die, that there is as little blood as possible. I bow down to him,” added Taisiya Chepurina, 81, whose husband fought within the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943.

Western powers had been unimpressed by Putin’s phrases. British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace accused Putin of “mirroring fascism”, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian mentioned the Russian chief was “in denial” and US State Department spokesman Ned Price referred to as his speech “patently absurd” and an “insult” to historical past.

‘THEY WILL NEVER SUCCEED’

In the vital port of Odessa, European Council President Charles Michel paid a shock go to of assist and was compelled to take shelter throughout a strike.

“The Kremlin wants to execute your spirit of freedom and democracy,” he mentioned in a video posted from Odessa. “I am totally convinced they will never succeed.”

The port metropolis was hit Monday night by a sequence of highly effective missiles, destroying 5 buildings, setting ablaze a procuring centre and injuring two folks, emergency providers mentioned.

Russia has been in search of to grab Ukraine’s east after failing to take the capital Kyiv.

The governor of the jap Lugansk area, Sergiy Gaiday, mentioned Monday there have been “very serious battles” round Bilogorivka and Rubizhne.

An AFP workforce noticed columns of vans stuffed with troopers and heavy tools transfer down the primary street main away from town of Severodonetsk, suggesting Ukraine was giving up the defence of its final stronghold village of Bilogorivka on Sunday.

Pro-Russian separatists feted Victory Day in Ukraine’s devastated southern port of Mariupol, the place depleted Ukrainian forces are defending their last bastion on the Azovstal steelworks.

Separatist chief Denis Pushilin and residents carried a large black and orange ribbon of Saint George – an emblem of WWII celebrations in Russia – via town that has seen among the heaviest preventing because the invasion on 24 February.

Full management of Mariupol would enable Moscow to create a land bridge between the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed in 2014, and jap areas of Ukraine run by pro-Russian separatists.

‘WE WILL WIN’

Ukrainian chief Volodymyr Zelensky invoked the ghosts of World War II to chide Russia for claiming sole credit score for profitable.

“We will not allow anyone to annex this victory. We will not allow it to be appropriated,” he mentioned in a video speech shortly earlier than Putin spoke.

Yet in Kyiv the commemoration day was largely shunned as life slowly returned to regular, weeks after fierce preventing raged in its suburbs.

The West has rallied behind Zelensky as a hero and promised new assist.

US President Joe Biden signed a Lend-Lease Act – modelled on World War II efforts to combat Nazi Germany – that cuts via bureaucratic hurdles to hurry up weapons shipments to Ukraine.

The United States has despatched some $4 billion in navy assist to Ukraine already however “caving to aggression is even more costly,” Biden mentioned as he signed the act, handed with uncommon bipartisan assist.

Zelensky hailed the measure as a “historic step,” writing on Twitter, “I am convinced that we will win together again. And we will defend democracy in Ukraine. And in Europe. Like 77 years ago.”

PROGRESS TOWARDS EMBARGO

In one other step ahead in pressuring Russia, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen mentioned she made “progress” on a proposed Russian oil embargo throughout talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The populist Orban is one in every of Putin’s closest associates in Europe and had held up the bloc’s try and section out Russian oil – one of the crucial painful measures but taken by the West – as he pointed to financial penalties in landlocked Hungary.

But France’s President Emmanuel Macron poured chilly water on Ukraine’s oft-repeated want for fast-track European Union membership, saying it might take “decades”.

Macron, nevertheless, prompt constructing a broader political bloc that might additionally embrace Britain.

One ray of hope has come from prisoner swaps.

Ukrainian soldier Glib Stryzhko, 25, was gravely wounded and captured in Mariupol in April however lastly launched after a secret telephone name to his mom.

“After we were loaded onto the bus waiting for us, the driver said: ‘Guys, you can breathe. You are home now,'” Stryzhko advised AFP from his hospital mattress in Zaporizhzhia.





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