Putin lashes west at Russian Victory Day parade, says world is at ‘crucial tipping point’

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday at his country’s Victory Day Parade in Moscow’s Red Square that “a real war” was unleashed against Russia by the West’s “untamed ambitions” shortly after Kremlin forces rained cruise missiles on Ukrainian targets let.

“Today, civilization stands again at a crucial turning point,” Putin said at the annual commemorations in Moscow celebrating Nazi Germany’s defeat in World War II. “A real war has been unleashed against our fatherland.”

Since Russia invaded its neighbor more than 14 months ago, the Kremlin’s official account of the war paints a picture of an existential conflict with the West, which Moscow says is using Ukraine simply as a tool to destroy Russia and rewrite its history to write and destroy its traditional values. This version of events has dominated Russian state media coverage of the war.

A man in a convertible stands and salutes during a parade while soldiers stand by the roadside.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu salutes during the Victory Day parade marking the 78th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. (Gavriil Grigorov/Sputnik/Reuters)

In his speech, Putin insisted that the West’s “untamed ambition, arrogance and impunity” were to blame for the conflict.

Putin saluted soldiers fighting in Ukraine who were present at the parade.

“To Russia! To our valiant forces! To victory!” Putin closed the speech.

Second straight night of airstrikes

On Tuesday night, hours before the start of the Moscow parade, which took place under strict security measures this year, Russia fired a barrage of cruise missiles at Ukraine.

Kremlin forces launched 25 missiles in a wave of attacks over Ukraine overnight, Ukraine’s Air Force said, adding that air defenses successfully destroyed 23 of them. It was the second straight night of major Russian airstrikes and the fifth so far this month.

A woman stands in front of a wall with her hands folded.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visits the memorial wall in Kiev on Tuesday to commemorate the killed Ukrainian soldiers. (Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters)

“Overnight into the ‘holy’ May 9th, [they] launched an attack on the territory of Ukraine,” said the Ukrainian Air Force.

In a Telegram post, the Air Force said eight Kalibr cruise missiles were fired eastward from carriers in the Black Sea and 17 from strategic aircraft.

Debris fell on a house in Holosiivskyi district, southwestern Kiev, but caused little damage, Kiev Mayor Vitalii Klitschko said. Debris lay on a street in the often-attacked Shevchenkivskyi district of central Kiev.

Kyiv marked Europe Day on Tuesday, celebrating a declaration that led to the creation of the body that became the European Union. It was hosted by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who tweeted a picture of herself arriving by train at Kiev station.

“Nice to be back in Kiev. Where the values ​​we hold dear are defended every day,” she wrote, calling it “such a fitting place to celebrate Europe Day.”

Reduced celebrations in Russia

In Russia, about two dozen cities have canceled military parades for the first time in years. The Immortal Regiment processions, which see crowds take to the streets with portraits of relatives who died or served in World War II – another pillar of the holiday – have also been canceled in several cities.

Regional officials blamed unspecified “safety concerns.” However, some speculated that the reason for the cancellation of the Immortal Regiment marches was the fact that Russians may have brought portraits of relatives who died in Ukraine to these processions, highlighting the magnitude of Russia’s losses in the protracted conflict.

A line of tanks moves through the otherwise empty city streets.
Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems move towards Red Square in Moscow during the Victory Day military parade. While the tanks rolled in, traditional parade flyovers were cancelled. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/Reuters)

Moscow attempted to project a show of force during its flagship parade in Red Square, with top-of-the-line military gear rumbling through the parade and leaders of the former Soviet states standing alongside Putin.

Only one of them – Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov – was originally expected to attend, but on Monday officials confirmed at the last minute that leaders from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan would also travel to Moscow.

Still, the parade looked more modest than usual: no military planes flew over Red Square, and fewer pieces of military equipment were on display. For the first time in years, the parade ended in less than an hour.

The reduced celebrations come after ambiguous official reports last week that two Ukrainian drones flew into the heart of Moscow under cover of darkness and reached the Kremlin before being shot down.

The Kremlin saw it as an attack on Putin. Ukraine denied involvement and the US denied knowledge of the incident.


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