Putin presided over a modest Victory Day military parade in Moscow’s Red Square: ‘A real war has been unleashed’

“Nothing is more important now than your military task. The security of the country depends on you today, the future of our state and our people depends on you,” Putin told the soldiers (Sputnik/Reuters) (SPUTNIK/)

Vladimir Putin proclaimed this Tuesday that a “royal war” against Russia due to the “runaway ambitions” of the West, in a speech during the military parade on Red Square in Moscow for Victory Daya reduced display of military might shortly after Kremlin forces launched cruise missiles at Ukrainian targets.

“Today, civilization again sees itself at a decisive turning point,” Putin said at annual celebrations in memory of the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II. “A real war has been unleashed against our mother country.”

Since Russia invaded the neighboring country more than 14 months ago, Putin has reiterated that the war in Ukraine is a proxy conflict with the West. The official Kremlin message on the war has described an existential conflict with the West, which in Moscow’s view is using Ukraine as a tool to destroy Russia, rewrite Russia’s history and crush its traditional values. That version of events has dominated coverage of the war in Russian state media.

In his speech, Putin insisted that Western “impunity, arrogance and uncontrolled ambitions” are responsible for the conflict.

Intercontinental ballistic missile in Red Square
Intercontinental ballistic missile in Red Square (SPUTNIK/)

The president also accused the “globalized Western elites” of urging the peoples to confront each other and “provoking bloody conflicts.”

“Their objective is to achieve the collapse and destruction of our country,” Putin reiterated, who defends his offensive against Ukraine as a measure to defend Russia against an alleged Western aggression.

After the president’s brief speech, thousands of soldiers paraded in the emblematic Red Square in Moscowwith Russian and Soviet flags.

The president welcomed soldiers fighting in Ukraine who were present at the parade. “For Russia! For our armed forces! For the victory!”, Putin concluded.

Armored vehicles for the 78th anniversary of the victory over the Nazis (Reuters)
Armored vehicles for the 78th anniversary of the victory over the Nazis (Reuters) (SHAMIL ZHUMATOV /)
Russian officers at the parade
Russian officers in the parade (MOSCOW NEWS AGENCY /)

Kremlin forces launched 25 missiles overnight in a wave of attacks at different locations across Ukraine, according to the Ukrainian air force, which said it had destroyed 23 of them.

In a Telegram post, the air force said eight Kalibr cruise missiles had been launched from ships in the Black Sea to the east and 17 from strategic aircraft.

Meanwhile, Moscow and other Russian cities hosted military parades and other celebrations for Victory Day, Russia’s most important secular holiday, marred this year by the war in Ukraine.

A Yars missile passes in front of the US embassy in Moscow (Reuters)
A Yars missile passes in front of the US embassy in Moscow (Reuters) (TATYANA MAKEYEVA /)

Russian media reported 24 Russian cities that had canceled military parades on May 9, the centerpiece of the festivities in Russia for the first time in years. In many cities, Immortal Regiment processions, in which crowds take to the streets with portraits of relatives who died or served in World War II, another key element of the date, have also been cancelled.

Regional authorities attributed the decision to “security reasons” not specified. Others, however, speculated that the Immortal Regiment marches had been canceled because the Russians might have brought portraits of fallen relatives in Ukraine, which would have shown the scale of Russian losses in a dragging conflict.

Moscow was trying to make a show of force with the parade in Red Square, with state-of-the-art military equipment and heads of nations from the former Soviet Union alongside Putin.

Initially, only one of them – Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov – was expected to attend, but authorities confirmed late on Monday that the leaders of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were also on their way to Moscow.

(Sputnik / Reuters) (SPUTNIK /)

Even so, the parade looked more modest than usual. There were no military aircraft flying over Red Square and fewer pieces of military equipment were shown. For the first time in years, the parade ended in less than an hour.

The more low-key celebrations came after ambiguous reports last week that two Ukrainian drones had flown into the heart of Moscow under the cover of night and reached the Kremlin before being shot down. The Kremlin described it as an assassination attempt on Putin, while Ukraine denied involvement.

(With information from AP and AFP)

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