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Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the West in his Victory Day speech Monday at the Kremlin, claiming that the U.S. and other countries had propped up a “threat” on Russia’s borders and had even supported threats of nuclear war against his country.
“Russia has always stood up for an international system of equality,” Putin said, according to a translation from the German outlet Deutsche-Welle. “We have always tried to find compromise solutions… Other countries had completely different plans.”
“They have tried to attack our historical territories like the Crimea. They have threatened to use nuclear war, and the West has supported these military actions carried out in our neighborhood and that is why it was a threat we couldn’t accept,” the Russian president added. He claimed there was a “threat to our border.”
Russian soldiers tint their T-72 tanks on the eve of the Victory Day military parade which will take place at Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square on May 9 to celebrate 77 years after the victory in World War II in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, May 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
“We have seen the military infrastructure developed,” Putin claimed, mentioning “more and more international military advisors coming into the country. The country was provided with modern weapons. There was a threat that was growing day by day.”
Putin condemned the U.S. by name. “The United States of America, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union,… has humiliated not only the whole world, but also their satellite states.”
“They have tried to denigrate the memory of the Second World War,” he charged.
Russian President Vladimir Putin watches an air parade on Victory Day, which marks the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, amid the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in central Moscow, Russia May 9, 2020. (Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via REUTERS )
Putin also claimed that “the enemies of our country have tried to use international terrorism against us,” likely referring to the increased sanctions against Russia and the seizure of Russian oligarchs’ assets abroad.
Putin said those living today are “the successor generation” to the generation that fought World War II. “Those who won a victory over fascism in the Second World War are a symbol for us,” he said.
“Today in the Donbas, the militia and our forces stand up in order to defend our territory,” Putin said. “We have many people we should remember, and they are now supporting us in the Donbas. You are fighting for your homeland, for the future of our homeland.”
Evoking the history of Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany on May 9, 1945, Putin repeatedly tied the current government of Ukraine – which is headed by the Jewish President Volodymyr Zelenskyy – to the Nazis.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) shakes hands with WWII veterans after a wreath laying ceremony at the Unknown Soldier Tomb in Moscow, May 8, 2002. Russia will celebrate the Victory Day on May 9. (Reuters)
“We are dealing with Nazis,” he said when mentioning the ostensible threat of Ukraine. “We are going to punish the Nazis,” he vowed while cheering on Russian troops in the Donbas.
“We also would like to respect those who fought with us in 2014,” Putin added, hailing “the peaceful people in the Donbas who were killed by the Nazis.”
The Russian president appeared to be citing the Azov Battalion, a unit of Ukraine’s National Guard in Mariupol that was once a volunteer regiment and first saw combat in June 2014. In March 2015, Andriy Diachenko, a spokesman for the brigade, told USA Today that 10% to 20% are Nazis, but the ideology “has nothing to do with the official ideology of the Azov.”
Zelenskyy emphatically denied the claim that the Azov Battalion fosters Nazism.
“The Azov Regiment is not a volunteer (formation), but part of the National Guard,” Zelenskyy said last week. “They are (part of) the official army of our state. Anyone who wanted to get involved in politics, (left the Azov Regiment). Those who decided to serve in the National Guard of Ukraine became part of the National Guard of Ukraine.”