Ukraine defiant as Russia marks WW2 victory
STORY: "You are fighting for the Homeland, for its future, so that no one forgets the lessons of World War Two. So that there is no place in the world for executioners, punishers, and Nazis."
This was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rallying cry to his soldiers on Monday (May 9), in a speech evoking the memory of Soviet heroism on the 77th anniversary of victory against Nazi Germany.
Addressing massed ranks of servicemen on Red Square during the annual Victory Day parade, Putin condemned what he called external threats to weaken and split Russia.
He also acknowledged the cost in Russian lives, pledging to help families of fallen soldiers.
But his 11-minute speech, on day 75 of the invasion of Ukraine, was largely notable for what he did not say.
He did not mention Ukraine by name, gave no assessment of progress in the war, and offered no indication of how long it might continue.
Over in Ukraine, the mood was defiant.
"We are fighting for freedom for our children, and therefore we will win.”
In an address, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on the anniversary of triumph over Nazism, his country was fighting for a new victory.
“Because only a madman can want to repeat the 2,194 days of war. The one, who is already repeating the horrific crimes of the entire Hitler regime and copying everything they did. He is doomed.”
Ukrainian officials said heavy fighting was underway in the east of the country and warned people to take cover from expected missile strikes.
There were signs of defiance in Russia, too.
Russian satellite television menus were altered to show viewers in Moscow messages about the war in Ukraine.
Anti-war slogans such as "You have the blood of thousands of Ukrainians and hundreds of dead children on your hands," and "The TV and the authorities are lying" appeared on various channels.
It was not immediately clear how the slogans appeared.
As the war rolls into its 10th week, peace talks between the two sides are continuing, Russia’s chief negotiator told the Interfax news agency on Monday.
Ukraine and Russia have not held face-to-face peace talks since March 29, though they have met by video link.
Zelenskiy said last month that there was a high risk that the talks would end, blaming public anger with what he said were Russian atrocities committed as they retreated from parts of northern Ukraine.
Moscow has accused Kyiv of stalling the talks and using the reports of atrocities to undermine negotiations. It denies targeting civilians in what it calls a “special military operation.”