Putin Justifies Invasion of Ukraine
As Russia celebrated the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany, Putin united his country in support of the invasion of Ukraine.
From The Wall Street Journal. Russian President Vladimir Putin used the annual commemoration of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II as an occasion to voice his justifications for the Kremlin’s attack on Ukraine, saying it was the only way to prevent what he said was a planned assault on Russia.
Speaking to the nation from Red Square ahead of the annual military parade here Monday, the Russian leader said Moscow had been forced to act because it believed that a clash with Ukraine, which he says is led by U.S.-backed neo-Nazis, was inevitable.
“The danger was growing day by day, so Russia gave a pre-emptive response to the aggression. It was a forced, timely and only correct decision, a decision made by the sovereign, strong and independent country,” Mr. Putin said as he stood on a podium near Lenin’s Mausoleum. “We saw how the military infrastructure was being developed, how hundreds of foreign advisers began to work, regular deliveries of the most modern weapons from [the North Atlantic Treaty Organization] countries were occurring.”
Mr. Putin lauded Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine, telling them that “you are fighting for our motherland, its future, so that nobody forgets the lessons of World War II, so that there is no place in the world for torturers, death squads and Nazis….”
Since the start of the war, Moscow has falsely claimed that the government in Kyiv is run by Nazis. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is Jewish and grew up speaking Russian, has said that given the loss of more than eight million Ukrainians during World War II, his people could never support such an ideology.
Mr. Zelensky delivered a videotaped address to mark the Victory Day holiday, sending a message of defiance and confidence. “Very soon there will be two Victory Days in Ukraine. And someone won’t have any,” he said in the video as he sauntered down a quiet Kyiv boulevard dotted with antitank barriers. The video was intercut with images of a martial parade on Aug. 24, when Kyiv celebrated the 30th anniversary of Ukraine’s declaration of independence from the Soviet Union….
Hours before Mr. Putin began his speech on Red Square, Russian state television and the Rutube video platform were hacked, with antiwar slogans replacing program titles and channel descriptions, according to several social-media posts.
“On your hands is the blood of thousands of Ukrainians and hundreds of murdered children. TV and authorities are lying. No to war,” read one message on Russia’s flagship Channel One….
According to independent and state polls, many Russians believe the Kremlin’s narrative on the conflict in Ukraine and support Mr. Putin’s war against its former Soviet vassal, despite early setbacks….
Faced with stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces, Russia’s military has refocused its mission on the country’s east, and has increased attacks on railways, electrical-power facilities and points where Western weapons and ammunition are flowing into the country. Russia has accused Ukraine of sporadic attacks and acts of sabotage on its territory in recent weeks….
The Kremlin leader criticized the West for ignoring Russia’s demands for security guarantees, for rejecting Moscow’s stipulations that NATO stop its eastern expansion and for failing to agree to the establishment of a security system that guarantees equal protection for all nations….
The U.S. and NATO have rejected Mr. Putin’s demands that the alliance halt expansion and bar Kyiv entry, saying they firmly support the alliance’s open-door policy. Before the war, the U.S. and its allies had expressed a willingness to continue negotiations with Russia with the goal of improving security….
After the parade on Red Square, crowds flooded Moscow’s central Tverskaya Street in rain and sleet to join in a procession known as the Immortal Regiment, hoisting placards of loved ones engaged in World War II. Mr. Putin joined the procession when it reached Red Square, carrying a picture of his late father, who fought in that conflict.
Yuri Zhurkin, a retired nuclear submarine sailor who carried a portrait of his father Sergei, a soldier who reached Berlin, gestured to the sea of procession participants and said it would be impossible to defeat Russia.
“This year all of our country is united,” Mr. Zhurkin. “If someone beats your relative, your son or your daughter, wouldn’t you defend them, or do you just run away? Russia always defends its own.”
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(Excerpt from The Wall Street Journal. Photo Credit: Getty Images)
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