- Russia celebrated its 'victory day', same day as its invasion on Ukraine reached 75th day.
- In his speech, Putin said "Russian forces defending 'Motherland' in Ukraine."
- Russian forces pushed forward, seeking to capture Mariupol as Moscow celebrated its holiday.
Russia Victory Day: The Russian war against Ukraine has reached its 75th day, the same day as the country's 'victory day' which marks victory over the Nazis during the second world war in 1945.
Speaking at the Victory parade, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, "Moscow's military action in Ukraine was preemptive to ward off aggression and a necessary response to Western policies."
Russia was facing an 'absolutely unacceptable threat' in Ukraine, the leader added, saying "Russian forces defending 'Motherland' in Ukraine."
Putin drew parallels between the Red Army’s fighting against Nazi troops and the Russian forces’ action in Ukraine. He said that the campaign in Ukraine was a timely and necessary move to ward off a potential aggression.
He added that the Russian troops were fighting for the country’s security in Ukraine and observed a minute of silence to honor the troops who fell in combat.
While lambasting the West, Putin gave no indication of a shift in strategies or made any indication that he was going to declare a broad mobilization, as some in Ukraine and the West have feared.
Addressing the phalanxes of elite Russian troops filling Red Square, Putin said the campaign in Ukraine was a necessary move to avert what he described as “a threat that was absolutely unacceptable to us (that) has been methodically created next to our borders."
“The danger was rising by the day,” he claimed, adding that “Russia has given a preemptive response to an aggression” in what he described as a “forced, timely and the only correct decision by a sovereign, powerful and independent country.”
The Russian leader has repeatedly accused Ukraine of harboring aggressive intentions, with support from the U.S. and its allies — claims Ukrainian and Western officials have denied.
In his speech at the parade, Putin again scolded the West for failing to heed Russian demands for security guarantees and a rollback to NATO’s expansion, arguing that it left Moscow no other choice but to launch an action in Ukraine.
The Russian leader emphasized that the Russian troops were fighting for the country’s security in Ukraine and called a minute of silence to honor the soldiers who fell in combat. Putin noted that some of the troops taking part in the parade previously have fought in Ukraine.
He said that the troops in Ukraine have been “fighting for the Motherland, so that no one will forget the lessons of World War II and there will be no place in the world for hangmen, executioners and the Nazis.”
Push towards Mariupol
Russian forces pushed forward Monday in their assault on Ukraine, seeking to capture the crucial southern port city of Mariupol as Moscow celebrated its Victory Day. Determined to show success in a war now in its 11th week, Russian troops were pummeling a seaside steel mill where an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters were making what appeared to be their last stand to save Mariupol from falling.
The mill is the only part of the city not overtaken by the invaders. Its defeat would deprive Ukraine of a vital port and allow Russia to establish a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
The Victory Day that Russia marks on May 9 is the country's most important holiday, celebrated with military parades and fireworks across the county.
The Soviet Union lost a staggering 27 million people in World War II, which it calls the Great Patriotic War. The conflict, which devastated the country and caused enormous suffering, has left a deep scar in the national psyche.
(with AP inputs)