Putin seeks to justify Ukraine war in Victory Day speech
Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to justify his war in Ukraine in a speech on Russia's Victory Day, blaming the West and linking the conflict to World War II.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to justify his war in Ukraine on Monday, blaming the West and linking the conflict to World War II but not announcing any escalation despite fears from Kyiv and its allies.
In a speech at Moscow’s Victory Day parade to celebrate the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany, Putin framed the struggling military campaign as a continuation of that historic fight.
Addressing Russian troops, thousands of whom had gathered in Red Square for the annual display of military might, Putin told them they were "fighting for the motherland, for its future, so that no one forgets the lessons of WWII.”
The Russian leader cast his invasion as a forced intervention to ward off aggression from the United States and NATO, repeating his false claim that Ukraine is run by Nazis controlled by the West.
But while Putin repeated his familiar accusations against Moscow's rivals, he offered no sign of imminent escalation.
The Russian leader’s address was nervously watched by observers in Europe and Washington, who for weeks expressed concerns about what he might announce. Ultimately the highly-anticipated speech was over in minutes, without any shift toward a broader national mobilization or a declaration of any sort of victory.
Strong Ukrainian resistance and increasing military support from Kyiv's allies, as well as Russian forces' failures, have left Putin with little to show for the war after more than two months.
He has made few public appearances since launching the invasion, with each event closely watched for signs of what Russia might be planning next.
But while Putin repeatedly referred to the war, which the Kremlin only refers to as a “special military operation,” he steered clear of any major announcements during the relatively short speech.
The Russian leader addressed rows of troops standing before him, including those who, he said, had returned from combat in the Donbas, the industrial region in eastern Ukraine which is now the focus of the fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian troops.
In a rare nod to the scale of that sacrifice, Putin acknowledged Russian losses in Ukraine.