(CNN) Russian President Vladimir Putin led a Victory Day parade in Moscow on Tuesday, repeating his false claim that the West had launched a “real war” against Russia despite the Kremlin’s unprovoked aggression. Ukraine.
Thousands of people lined the streets of Moscow’s Red Square as part of Russia’s annual parade. An exhibition of patriotism Refers to the Soviet Union’s role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II.
Victory Day is the most important day in Putin’s calendar, as he has long used it to rally popular support, demonstrate the country’s military prowess, and rail against the historical injustices the West has heaped on his nation.
Ahead of the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin wall, the Russian leader historically displayed military hardware, including tanks, missiles and other weapons systems, in Red Square. Died in battles.
This year’s parade will feature more than 10,000 people and 125 units of various types of weapons and equipment, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said. Last year the ministry announced that 11,000 people and 131 types of weapons were involved in the military parade, with an aerial display of 77 planes and helicopters.
But on Tuesday the mechanized column featured only an ancient World War II T-34 tank as Moscow scaled back its annual parade.
The Tigr-M and VPK-Ural armored vehicles were also on display, but the main focus was on the country’s S-400 air defense system and its intercontinental ballistic system — the Yaris.
A regular flight over Red Square was canceled, state media reported, without giving an explanation.
Putin used the annual Victory Day parade to launch another scathing attack on the West, accusing it of holding Ukraine hostage to its anti-Russian plans.
“A real war has been unleashed against our motherland,” Putin said on Tuesday, falsely claiming the West had provoked the war in Ukraine. “We have defeated international terrorism, and we will protect the residents of Donbas accordingly and protect our own security. Russia has no unfriendly countries, west or east.”
He again drew comparisons between the conflict in Ukraine and the fight against Nazi forces in World War II, saying civilization was once again at a turning point.
Throughout his short speech, Putin praised Russian troops fighting what the Kremlin called its “special military operation” in Ukraine, saying the country was “proud” of everyone fighting on the front lines.
“There is nothing more important now than your war mission,” Putin said.
However, there is no mention of the heavy casualties suffered by Russian troops, which are estimated to be in the tens of thousands.
World leaders such as former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former UN Secretary General Kobi Annan have attended the military parade in previous years. But such glimpses of unity have faded in recent years, after Putin’s invasion of Crimea in 2014 and the war in Ukraine severing diplomatic ties.
Moscow was under pressure on Tuesday to bolster its show of security and solidarity after last week It is said to be a drone attack The most powerful symbol of the Russian president was broken in the Kremlin.
Kyiv and its Western allies have exchanged barbed notes with Moscow after Ukraine accused it of carrying out US orders in an assassination attempt against Putin. Ukraine and Washington strongly denied the allegations.
The cause of the explosions is unknown, but the optics of a symbolic attack on the Kremlin have given Putin an opportunity to rally support from Russians as critics continue to speak out against Moscow’s full-scale invasion.
Similarly, Russia’s anger moderated Tuesday when a wave of drone and missile attacks were repelled by Ukraine’s air defenses.
In the past week, lives have been lost and civilians injured by destroyed drones or debris from missiles that have pierced the Ukrainian resistance. But above all, Gavin’s air-defence has proven to be formidable, and Moscow is lacking.
On Monday, Russian oligarch Andrei Kovalev called Moscow’s military campaign “a terrible war.”
“The whole world is against us,” he said in a video message later shared on Telegram.
At the same time, relations between senior Russian officials showed disunity as Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin launched a fiery tirade criticizing the Russian military’s focus on the Victory Day parade ahead of an expected spring offensive from Kiev in the south. .
“Today they are [Ukrainians] They tear through the flanks in the direction of Artemovsk (the Russian name for Pakmut) and regroup in Zaporizhia. And a counter-offensive is about to begin,” he said on his social media accounts on Tuesday.
“They are clearly saying that the counter-attack will be on the ground, not on TV. In our country, everyone wants to do everything on TV and celebrate Victory Day.”
He chose the moment of the parade to issue a statement that Russian Defense Ministry troops had indeed abandoned positions around the city of Pakmut, a key battleground in eastern Ukraine.
“Victory Day is the victory of our grandfathers,” he added. “We didn’t get one millimeter of that victory.”
‘Evil is back’
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky compared Russia to Nazi Germany Moving victory day A bill submitted to lawmakers in an attempt to exclude Gay from the Kremlin’s celebrations a day ahead of the celebrations.
Like Russia, Ukraine traditionally commemorates the victory over the Nazis on May 9, but that date is increasingly associated with a parade in Moscow.
“It is on May 8 that most of the world remembers the greatness of the victory over the Nazis,” Zelensky said on Monday.
Zelensky said on Tuesday that Russia had failed to take Baghmut before the May 9 deadline for the Victory Day parade.
“They couldn’t capture Bagmut, and that was the last important military operation they wanted to complete by May ninth,” Zelensky told a joint press conference with European President Ursula van der Leyen.
“Unfortunately, the city no longer exists and everything has been completely destroyed.”
CNN’s Zahid Mahmoud, Vasco Godovio, Nick Patton Walsh, Amy Cassidy, Angela Dewan and Katharina Krebs contributed reporting.