(CNN) President Vladimir Putin gave a bellicose speech Victory Day Parade In Moscow, which accused the West of launching a “real war” against Russia, the Kremlin displayed a military might that contrasted with its pushback campaign in the lead-up to its unprovoked invasion. Ukraine.
Thousands of people lined the streets of Moscow’s Red Square on Tuesday as part of Russia’s annual parade. An exhibition of patriotism Refers to the Soviet Union’s role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II. On May 8, 1945, (May 9 Moscow time) Germany signed the instrument of surrender in Berlin, ending hostilities in Europe. The Soviet Union suffered the highest casualties of any country – some 27 million soldiers and civilians died.
The most important day on Putin’s calendar, he has long used it to rally popular support, demonstrate the country’s military might and fight back against the historical injustices the West has heaped on his nation.
Putin spent much of his speech on Tuesday targeting the West and allies of Ukraine, which fought back against Russia’s invasion that began in February 2022.
“A real war has been unleashed against our motherland,” Putin said on Tuesday, falsely claiming the West had provoked the war in Ukraine. “We have defeated international terrorism and will protect the Donbas residents accordingly and our own security. Russia has no unfriendly countries to the west or east.
“As the majority of people on this planet we want to see a future that is peaceful, free and stable. We believe that any ideology of hegemony is by its very nature hateful, criminal and deadly,” he added.
“The Ukrainian nation has become hostage to a conspiracy led by a criminal regime led by its Western masters. It has become a pawn in their cruel and selfish plans.”
But in light of two recent Kremlin drone strikes, deep divisions among senior Russian officials over war tactics and the Ukrainian spring offensive, tensions in Moscow have been high ahead of the second march since Russia launched its invasion.
Many parts of Russia — many near the border with Ukraine — have scaled back preparations for the May 9 event due to security concerns and a lack of military equipment to display.
Putin historically led the annual military parade through Red Square with displays of military hardware including tanks, missiles and other weapons systems before a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin wall. Died in battles.
More than 10,000 people and 125 units of various types of weapons and equipment will be displayed in total at the parade, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.
Last year the ministry announced that 11,000 people and 131 types of weapons were involved in the military parade, with an aerial display of 77 planes and helicopters.
World leaders like former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former UN Secretary General Kobi Annan have attended the military parade in previous years. But such glimpses of unity have faded in recent years, after Putin’s invasion of Crimea in 2014 and the war in Ukraine severing diplomatic ties.
Moscow will be under pressure to strengthen its security and unity on Tuesday after last week It is said to be a drone attack The most powerful symbol of the Russian president was broken in the Kremlin.
Kyiv and its Western allies have exchanged barbed notes with Moscow after Ukraine accused it of carrying out US orders in an assassination attempt against Putin. Ukraine and Washington strongly denied the allegations.
The cause of the explosions is unknown, but the optics of a symbolic attack on the Kremlin have given Putin an opportunity to rally support from Russians as critics continue to speak out against Moscow’s full-scale invasion.
On Monday, Russian oligarch Andrei Kovalev called Moscow’s military campaign “a terrible war.”
“The whole world is against us,” he said in a video message later shared on Telegram.
Meanwhile, relations between senior Russian officials have soured after Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin on Thursday threatened to withdraw his troops from the city of Bakhmut because of insufficient support from the Kremlin.
Prigogine appeared walk back In his comments on Sunday, however, the heated outburst pointed to a lack of morale as Russian forces struggle to break through a key battleground in eastern Ukraine, ahead of an expected spring offensive from Kiev in the south.
‘Evil is back’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky compared Russia to Nazi Germany Moving victory day A bill submitted to lawmakers in an attempt to exclude Gay from the Kremlin’s celebrations a day ahead of the celebrations.
Like Russia, Ukraine traditionally commemorates the victory over the Nazis on May 9, but that date is increasingly associated with a parade in Moscow.
“It is on May 8 that most of the world remembers the greatness of the victory over the Nazis,” Zelensky said on Monday.
“We will not allow the collective victory of the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition to be appropriated, and we will not allow lies as if the victory could have happened without the participation of any country or nation.”
Comparing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to Hitler’s expansionist goals, Zelensky said the goal of the two regimes was the same — “enslavement or destruction.”
“Unfortunately, evil has returned,” he said. “Then evil rushed into our towns and villages, as it does now, as before it killed our people, so it does now.”
CNN’s Angela Dewan and Katharina Krebs contributed reporting.