President Vladimir Putin says his country will “firmly” defend Russia’s national interests, denouncing the return of “Russophobia” and warning of a resurgence of Nazism.
Putin’s speech on Sunday came at the start of an annual parade that saw military hardware rolling through the streets of Moscow. More than 12,000 soldiers took part in the march, as well as some 190 pieces of military equipment and 76 fighter jets and helicopters.
The parade marked the 76th anniversary of World War II victory over Nazi Germany.
“The Soviet people kept their sacred oath, defended the homeland and freed the countries of Europe from the Black Death,” Putin told the crowd.
“Russia is constantly defending international law. At the same time, we will firmly defend our national interests to ensure the safety of our people. “
The Russian leader condemned what he called a crackling return to the ideologies of the time, when “the slogans of racial and national superiority, anti-Semitism and Russophobia became increasingly cynical.”
“Unfortunately, many of the Nazis’ ideologies, those that were obsessed with the delusional theory of their exclusivity, are trying to get back into service,” Putin said.
Victory Day parades, which only became annual events after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and became increasingly important in projecting Russia’s renewed military strength over the two decades. of Putin’s power, also took place in dozens of cities in the nation.
Tensions with the West
Sunday’s commemoration came as Russia has seen its diplomats expelled in recent weeks from a group of European countries over espionage scandals, while the United States and the European Union have imposed new sanctions on Moscow for treating the critic. of the imprisoned Kremlin Alexey Navalny and allegations of hacking and cyberattacks.
Tensions have also skyrocketed over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which erupted after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and where Moscow is widely seen as supporting pro-Russian separatists.
Clashes between government and separatists they have been intensifying since January in a conflict that has caused more than 13,000 lives.
Russia last month gathered 100,000 troops near the borders of Ukraine and Crimea, its largest accumulation since 2014, although it announced a reduction of what many saw as a test for new US President Joe Biden .
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken flew to Kiev last week to show his support for Ukraine ahead of a planned summit between Putin and Biden next month.
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled with European diplomats to the eastern and separatist Lugansk region to commemorate the end of World War II.