Putin warns of global clash as Russia marks WWII victory

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the West of risking a global conflict and said no one would be allowed to threaten the world’s biggest nuclear power.

He made the comments during a speech in Moscow marking the Soviet Union’s victory over Germany in World War II.

As Russian troops advance against Ukrain’s forces, Mr Putin accused “arrogant” Western elites of forgetting the decisive role played by the Soviet Union in defeating Germany, and of stoking conflicts across the world.

“We know what the exorbitance of such ambitions leads to. Russia will do everything to prevent a global clash,” the president said after Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu reviewed troops lined up as light snow fell.

“But at the same time, we will not allow anyone to threaten us. Our strategic forces are always in a state of combat readiness,” Mr Putin told the Victory Day event.

After calling for minute’s silence, he ended with the words: “For Russia! For victory! Hurrah!”, providing the cue for thousands of troops to answer with three loud cheers.

The president, who sent his army into Ukraine in 2022, casts the war as part of a struggle with the West, which he says humiliated Russia after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 by encroaching on what he considers Moscow’s sphere of influence.

Ukraine and the West say Mr Putin is engaged in an imperial-style land grab.

They have vowed to defeat Russia, which controls about 18% of Ukraine, including Crimea, and parts of four regions in eastern Ukraine.

Russia says the lands, once part of the Russian empire, are now part of Russia again.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu salutes to soldiers as he is driven through Red Square

The parade, in Red Square, featured columns of equipment, including advanced missiles and air defence systems, as well as thousands of military personnel dressed in ceremonial attire.

It has become one of Russia’s most important public holidays under Mr Putin, who has repeatedly framed the invasion of Ukraine as an existential battle against “Nazism”.

Russia often invites representatives from countries it deems “friendly” to the event, though attendance had dwindled even before it sent troops into Ukraine amid a stand-off with the West.

Eight world leaders attended the parade, Russian state-media said.

They were the heads of five ex-Soviet countries – Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan – as well as the leaders of Cuba, Laos and Guinea-Bissau.

In a high-profile snub, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan signalled that he would not be there amid a spat between the two allies.

Russian servicemen march in Red Square during the parade

President Putin delivered the address backed by his troops’ advances in Ukraine and a fresh six-year mandate in office after winning an election in March devoid of opposition.

Russia’s army held off a much-hyped Ukrainian counter-offensive last year, and has since made gains on the front lines as Ukraine struggles with ammunition and manpower shortages.

Authorities in Moscow increased security ahead of this year’s parade – one of the largest events of the year in the city.

It came amid a spate of Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian territory.

Other parts of Russia, including the western Kursk and Pskov regions, cancelled their parades due to security concerns.

Latest Ukraine invasion stories

The festivities came two days after Mr Putin vowed at a lavish inauguration to deliver “victory” to Russians, embarking on a record-breaking fifth term with more power than ever.

His 87% landslide victory in the presidential election was panned by most international observers and dismissed as rigged by opposition and rights groups.

Mr Putin upped his nuclear rhetoric earlier this week ordering the Russian military to hold nuclear weapons drills involving the navy and troops based near Ukraine.

Last year, Russia ditched its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and pulled out of a key arms reduction agreement with the United States.

Latest news
Related news