Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of waging a “real war” against Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of waging a “real war” against Russia during scaled-down Victory Day celebrations that commemorate the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.
Putin’s comments follow Moscow’s latest missile attack on Ukraine, which has been under Russian invasion for more than 14 months.
Ukrainian authorities have reported that their air defenses destroyed 23 of the 25 missiles launched by Russia.
Putin has consistently justified his invasion of Ukraine as a necessary defense against Western aggression.
However, Kyiv and its Western allies deny posing any such threat and argue that Russia is attempting to curb Western influence in Ukraine, which it considers part of its sphere of influence.
The Russian leader has frequently employed patriotic rhetoric to rally his citizens and forces, especially during Victory Day celebrations.
However, this year’s event was notably smaller, with just 8,000 troops participating, the lowest number since 2008.
The parade was also shorter than usual, and military jets did not fly over the event. The Immortal Regiment processions, another significant feature of the celebrations, were canceled in multiple cities.
The cancellation of the Immortal Regiment processions has raised speculation that the authorities feared that Russians might carry portraits of relatives who died in Ukraine, revealing the scale of Kremlin’s losses in the protracted conflict.
Furthermore, 24 cities scrapped military parades for the first time in years, with regional officials attributing the move to “security concerns” and “the current situation.”
Against the backdrop of Putin’s diplomatic isolation over the war, few foreign leaders attended the event.
Initially, only the President of Kyrgyzstan was expected, but later, leaders from other countries also attended.
In the meantime, the Ukrainian air force reported that eight Kalibr cruise missiles were fired from carriers in the Black Sea toward the east and 17 from strategic aircraft.
Ukraine aims to join the EU and NATO, and in the latest gesture of support, the U.S. is expected to announce $1.2 billion in long-term military aid to Ukraine to boost its air defenses.
Putin, in his Red Square speech, praised soldiers involved in the war in Ukraine and urged Russians to remain united.