Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday blamed NATO and democratic nations for Moscow’s war in Ukraine during a speech he gave to mark his nation’s victory over Nazi Germany more than 70 years ago.
Putin, who is the supreme commander-in-chief of Russia’s Armed Forces, attended a military parade of some 11,000 people and 131 military equipment units in Moscow’s Red Square to commemorate the 77th anniversary of Victory Day.
During his speech to the public, Putin described Western nations as aggressors unwilling to negotiate with him, leading to the war that is now nearing three months old.
He said that in December amid his military buildup of some 150,000 troops along Ukraine’s border that Russia proposed a security treaty with democratic nations but “NATO countries did not want to hear us, which means that in fact they had completely different plans.”
He accused the democratic nations of openly preparing to invade “our historical lands” of Donbas and Crimea, which Moscow illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
He also said there was talk in Kyiv of acquiring nuclear weapons and that “the NATO bloc had begun active military development of territories adjacent to us” as causes for the war.
“Thus, a threat absolutely unacceptable to us was systematically created directly at our borders,” he said. “I repeat, we saw how the military infrastructure was being developed, how hundreds of foreign advisers began to work, there were regular deliveries of the most modern weapons from NATO. The danger grew every day.”
Putin and Kremlin officials have described the war in Ukraine as a special military operation with the purpose of demilitarizing and denazifying the former Soviet Union nation. The war sparked outrage from democratic nations who have responded with wide-ranging punitive measures, including sanctions, as well as efforts to arm Kyiv in the battle.
The Russian president in his speech said with their invasion they “proactively rebuffed aggression.”
“It was a forced, timely and only right decision,” he said. “The decision of a sovereign, strong, independent country.”
Ahead of the speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky published a recorded speech of his own, stating on this Victory Day they are in a new fight, one that they will win.
“There is no occupier who can take root in our free land. There is no invader who can rule over our free people,” he said. “Sooner of later, we win. Despite the horde, despite Nazism, despite the mixture of the first and the second, which is the currently enemy, we win, because this is our land.
“And soon there will be two Victory Days in Ukraine,” he said. “And someone will not have even one left.”
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, resulting in the deaths of more than 3,300 Ukrainian civilians and forcing more than 5.8 million to flee the country, according to United Nations data.
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