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Putin tells Red Square parade that a ‘real war’ has been unleashed against Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his country’s Victory Day parade in Moscow’s Red Square on Tuesday that “a real war” had been unleashed against Russia by the “untamed ambitions” of the West, little after Kremlin forces rained down cruise missiles on Ukrainian targets.

“Today, civilization is once again at a turning point,” Putin said at the annual Moscow commemorations celebrating Nazi Germany’s defeat in World War II. “A veritable war has been unleashed against our homeland.”

Since Russia invaded its neighbor more than 14 months ago, Putin has repeatedly framed the war in Ukraine as a proxy conflict with the West. The official Kremlin narrative of the war has painted a picture of an existential conflict with the West, which Moscow says is simply using Ukraine as a tool to destroy Russia, rewrite its history and crush its traditional values. This version of events dominated Russian media coverage of the war.

In his speech, Putin insisted that the West’s “savage ambitions, arrogance and impunity” are to blame for the conflict.

Putin welcomed the soldiers fighting in Ukraine who were present at the parade. “To Russia! To our brave armed forces! To victory!” Putin concluded the speech.

Russia launched a barrage of cruise missiles at Ukraine overnight Tuesday-Tuesday, hours before the start of the Moscow parade, which is taking place this year under strict security measures.

Kremlin forces launched 25 missiles overnight in a wave of attacks across Ukraine, the Ukrainian Air Force said, adding that air defense managed to destroy 23.

In a Telegram post, the Air Force said eight Kalibr cruise missiles were launched from aircraft carriers in the Black Sea eastward and 17 from strategic aircraft.

The barrage came as Moscow and other cities staged military parades and other festivities to mark Victory Day, Russia’s biggest secular holiday which this year has been significantly overshadowed by the war in Ukraine.

Russian media has counted 24 Russian cities that have canceled May 9 military parades – the staple of celebrations across Russia – for the first time in years. Immortal Regiment processions, in which crowds take to the streets with portraits of loved ones who died or served in World War II – another mainstay of the holiday – have also been canceled in several cities.

Regional officials blamed unspecified “security issues”. Some have speculated, however, that the reason for the cancellation of the Immortal Regiment’s marches was the fact that Russians might bring portraits of relatives who died in Ukraine to these processions, illustrating the scale of Russia’s losses in the endless conflict.

Moscow sought to project a show of force during its flagship parade in Red Square, with top-notch military equipment rumbled there and leaders of former Soviet nations standing alongside President Vladimir Putin.

Initially, only one of them – Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov – was to attend, but at the last minute on Monday officials confirmed that the leaders of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were also traveling to Moscow.

Still, the parade looked more modest than usual: no military aircraft were flying over Red Square and fewer pieces of military equipment were on display. For the first time in years, the parade ended in less than an hour.

The simplified celebrations come after ambiguous official reports last week that two Ukrainian drones flew into the heart of Moscow under cover of darkness and reached the Kremlin before being shot down. The Kremlin framed it as an assassination attempt on Putin; Ukraine has denied any involvement.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine


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