Putin lambasts Ukraine, West for “distorting WWII history” to further stoke regional conflicts
05/13/2024 // Belle Carter // Views

Ukraine and its Western allies are attempting to "distort" history to further ignite the burgeoning conflicts in the region. This was according to Russian President Vladimir Putin when he gave a defiant speech on Thursday, May 9, as he attended a military parade during Russia's celebration of the 79th anniversary of Allied Victory over Adolf Hitler's Germany.

"Today we see how they're trying to distort the truth about World War II. It interferes with those who are used to building their essentially colonial policy based on hypocrisy and lies," Putin said in front of guests and servicemen. He said that these policies are aimed at elevating a few nations by restraining the development of other sovereign states. They demolish memorials to true fighters against Nazism and place traitors and Nazi collaborators on pedestals, he said and added that Western nations "would like to forget the lessons of WWII."

"Revanchism, abuse of history, and an attempt to justify the current Nazi followers is part of an overall policy of the Western elites to stoke new regional conflicts," he said, seeming to refer to the authorities in Kyiv, whom Russian officials including Putin regularly accuse of holding neo-Nazi views. "These [actions] are part of the general policy of Western elites of inciting more and more regional conflicts, interethnic and interreligious hostility, and restraining the development of sovereign independent states."

This year's Victory Day commemoration took place despite a tense geopolitical situation. Security in Moscow was tight because of Ukrainian repeated strikes on Russian territory and after an attack on a concert hall near the capital in March killed dozens. In some parts of Russia, including the western Kursk and Pskov regions, parades to commemorate Soviet Union's victory over Nazism were canceled due to safety concerns.

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Russia's Defense Ministry said around 9,000 servicemen and 61 pieces of military equipment, including the Yars intercontinental ballistic missile system and the S-400 surface-to-air missile system, took part in the Red Square military parade this year. IT featured the traditional flypast of airforce jets, which painted the sky with the colors of the Russian flag.

Putin was joined by six leaders of former Soviet republics: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyzstan's President Sadyr Japarov, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Uzbek leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedow. Leaders of Cuba, Laos and Guinea-Bissau were also in attendance.

"We celebrate Victory Day against the background of the special military operation," Putin said. He used the Kremlin's preferred term for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. "We bow our heads to the memory of civilians killed in the neo-Nazis' barbarian shelling and terrorist acts and our brothers-in-arms who died in the righteous fight against neo-Nazism," he added.

Putin emphasized that even though Russia would do everything possible to prevent a global conflict, it would not allow anyone to threaten its own safety and sovereignty. He said that their nuclear forces are at full combat readiness in preparation for a global war. (Related: Putin warns the west that Russia is ready for nuclear war.)

Russia's military weaponry is "one step ahead"

The annual military parade in commemoration of Victory Day has been viewed by the world as an opportunity for Russia to show off its weaponry. This year, it featured columns of Russian military equipment, although it was notably scaled back compared with past years. Last year and this year, it only presented one war tank – the Second World War T34.

Critics remark that the celebration's "scaled-down" display mirrored Russia's current "weak capability" in continuing its battle against Ukraine in the conflict. But while the Russian tank display was notably lacking, other modern weapons did make an appearance. Throughout the war in Ukraine, Russia has also regularly rattled the nuclear saber.

In a video released by the Kremlin that was shown during the festivity, Putin called for Russia to modernize its military arsenal so it could stay "one step ahead," including by buying foreign equipment where possible and sidestepping international sanctions where necessary. The president said that Russian engineers were working "day and night" to try to update equipment. "Modern military technology is changing very fast. If we want to be successful, we always have to be one step ahead," he said.  "Our enemy has quite modern means since the whole Western community is working for our enemy."

He said Russia would look to the international market for solutions as well. He also believes that might be relatively easy even amid Western sanctions. "We will take, why hide it, what we can find on the international market. Despite the difficulties, we can find things... They have dual, triple and civilian use," he said.

Thursday's event comes two days after Putin promised at a lavish inauguration for his fifth presidential term to deliver "victory" to Russians. He was in power as president or prime minister since 1999 and began his new mandate more than two years after he sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.

Check out WWIII.news to read more stories related to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

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