Putin tells WWII event West waging a 'real war' as Ukraine marks Europe Day
Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech during the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in Moscow on Tuesday. (PHOTO / AFP)
The world is at a key turning point and "a real war" has been unleashed against Russia by the West's "untamed ambitions", Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a parade marking the anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in World War II on Tuesday.
"Today, civilization is again at a decisive turning point. A real war has been unleashed against our homeland. We have repulsed international terrorism, we will protect the inhabitants of Donbas, we will ensure our security," Putin said at the parade held to commemorate the 78th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War on Moscow's Red Square.
Putin said Russia honors the sacrifice of the allied armies of the United States, the United Kingdom and China in World War II.
"I am convinced that the experience of solidarity and partnership in the days of the struggle against a common threat is our heritage and a reliable base of support in our movement toward a multipolar world based on trust and indivisible security, equal opportunities for unique and free development for all nations in the world," Putin said.
Thousands of citizens in the capital lined the streets holding photos of their grandparents who died in World War II. Apart from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazakh, Novosibirsk and some other cities also held the parade to mark Victory Day.
The parade in Moscow began with the march of the Honor Guard's banner group carrying the Russian national flag and the legendary Victory Banner across Red Square. The Victory Banner was hoisted over the Reichstag by soldiers of the Soviet 150th Idritskaya Rifle Division in May 1945.
In a 10-minute speech on Red Square, Putin said "Western globalist elites" were sowing Russophobia and aggressive nationalism, while the Ukrainian people had become "hostages to a state coup" and to the ambitions of the West.
This year, Russia's Victory Day Parade on Moscow's Red Square involved over 8,000 troops, including 530 fighters of the special military operation in Ukraine, and 125 items of military hardware.
The parade was held following an alleged drone attack on the Kremlin less than a week ago. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian government has been taking every possible measure to ensure security during the parade.
He highlighted the special significance of Victory Day for everyone involved in the victory over fascism.
Meanwhile, Ukraine and the European Union were marking Europe Day, a celebration of "peace and unity," together.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the EU's executive branch, made a special trip to Kyiv on Tuesday to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
More than a year into the conflict with Russia, Ukraine wants to badly join the bloc as an essential part to anchor its future in the Western world. "Europe Day," when the 27 current members celebrate their bond as one, also shows how far that moment is still off.
Zelensky highlighted the need for faster deliveries of artillery shells from the European Union during the meeting.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said peace negotiations to end the conflict in Ukraine were "not possible at this moment," in an interview published by Spanish daily El Pais on Tuesday.
Guterres said he hoped it was possible "in the future" to bring Russia and Ukraine to the negotiating table.
Agencies contributed to this story.