Russian President Vladimir Putin used a military parade marking the Soviet Union’s triumph over the Nazis during the Second World War to defend his invasion of Ukraine on Monday, casting it as a response to Western policies.
“Russia called on the West for an honest dialogue, to search for reasonable, compromise solutions, to take into account each other’s interests. It was all in vain. Putin stated that the NATO nations did not wish to listen. This means they actually had totally different plans.” The danger was growing every day. Russia prevented aggression by giving a preemptive response. This was the right, only and timely decision. It was a decision made by a sovereign, strong and independent country. “
Putin scolded the West for failing to roll back perceived NATO expansion and meet Russian demands for “security guarantees.” “
“The NATO bloc has begun active military development of the territories adjacent to us. Putin stated that a “threat to our security was created systematically, and moreover directly at our borders.”
“I think he is believing what he wants to believe — a slight shine of desperation,” U.K. defense secretary Ben Wallace said after Putin’s remarks. Let me be clear: NATO, Britain and eastern Europe are not planning on invading Russia, as they never have. “
There was less military equipment on display during the “Victory Day” parade than in previous years, which Moscow had earlier indicated would be the case. However, many weapons systems used in Ukraine are represented as well as long-range nukes.
According to the official formation plan published in Krasnaya Zvezda military newspaper, 131 vehicles took part in the parade on Red Square. By comparison, last year’s parade saw around 190 vehicles, while the 75th anniversary marking the end of what is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War was nearly double in size, with 234 vehicles on display.
Notably absent from this year’s formation plan were scores of weapons involved directly in Ukrainian hostiles, like anti-aircraft complexes Pantsir S-1, heavy multiple rocket launcher “Smerch” as well as T-80 tanks.
An open-source intelligence analyst Oliver Alexander noted that the armored vehicles used by the Russian National Guard were also missing this year.
“[The vehicles] are being used extensively in the invasion of Ukraine and have suffered heavy losses,” Alexander said in a tweet.
During his speech, Putin held a moment of silence for Russian casualties of his war in Ukraine, promising to offer assistance to the families of fallen Russian soldiers.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered his own message on Monday, saying that Ukraine itself had been victorious against the Nazis during the Second World War, and that it would be again.
Haley Ott is a digital reporter/producer for CBS News based in London.
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