Russian President Vladimir Putin tells a Victory Day parade in Moscow that he had no choice but to send troops into Ukraine to defend the Russian “motherland” from an “absolutely unacceptable threat” – Copyright AFP Hector RETAMAL
Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:
– Putin says war is to ‘defend Russian Motherland’ –
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his highly anticipated Victory Day speech at a giant military parade in Moscow. He says he had no choice but to send troops into Ukraine to defend the Russian “Motherland” from an “absolutely unacceptable threat”.
Speculation that he could use the 77th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II to expand the conflict come to naught.
The Russian leader insists instead on the need to avoid “the horror of a global war.”
– From Vladivostok to Aleppo –
Victory Day celebrations are held across Russia, kicking off in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok, where thousands took part in the local “Immortal Regiment” march.
The marches, which have become increasingly popular in recent years, feature people carrying photos of veterans or family members who died World War II. Russian communities abroad also organize marches, including in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, where Russia intervened in 2015 to crush opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.
This year, participants are also encouraged to bring photos of those who died fighting in Ukraine.
The march in Moscow aims to draw one million people.
– ‘We will win’, says Zelensky –
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky says he will not allow the Soviet Union’s victory over the Nazis to be “appropriated” by Putin.
“We are proud of our ancestors who together with other nations in the anti-Hitler coalition defeated Nazism. And we will not allow anyone to annex this victory. We will not allow it to be appropriated,” he says.
He compares the Russian invasion to the Nazi occupation of parts of present-day Ukraine.
“We won then. We will win now,” he says.
– Russian generals ‘should be court martialled’ –
Britain’s defence minister Ben Wallace, himself a former soldier, says Russia’s military top brass “should be court martialled.”
Wallace calls out the generals’ “absurdity” as they flank Putin at the Victory Day parade “resplendent in their manicured parade uniforms and weighed down by their many medals”.
In a speech he will give later Monday he says “all professional soldiers should be appalled at the behaviour of the Russian Army.”
“Not only are they engaged in an illegal invasion and war crimes but their top brass have failed their own rank and file to the extent they should be court martialled.”
– ’60 killed’ in school bombing –
Zelensky says that that some 60 people sheltering in a school in the eastern village of Bilogorivka were killed in a Russian air strike, in one of the deadliest attacks since Russia invaded on February 24.
Lugansk region governor Sergiy Gaiday said rescuers are searching the rubble for survivors but that the prospects were bleak because the building was “completely destroyed”.
Russia has stated that “liberating” the eastern Donbas region, which comprises the Luhansk and Donetsk administrative regions, is its primary objective.
– Mariupol steelworks soldiers vow no surrender –
Ukrainian forces in the sprawling Azovstal steelworks in the Russian-controlled city of Mariupol — the last pocket of Ukrainian resistance in the devastated port city — vow to fight on.
Ukraine has said all women, children and elderly civilians have been evacuated from Azovstal as part of a UN and Red Cross humanitarian mission.
– Kyiv protests German police confiscating Ukraine flag –
Kyiv condemns Berlin’s “mistake” after German police confiscate a giant Ukrainian flag displayed by demonstrators at the Soviet War Memorial in the German capital.
Police say it was to ensure that a World War II commemoration ceremony stayed peaceful after a ban on displays of flags or military symbols at 15 memorial sites across Berlin.