Gloating Russians have taunted Ukraine by holding Victory Day parades in Mariupol and other occupied cities in a display of blind patriotism despite the stalling invasion.
In the port city brought to ruin by persistent Russian shelling and blockades, Kremlin puppet Denis Pushilin marched through the streets waving the traditional orange and black ribbon of Saint George associated with the military celebrations.
The leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic wore a Z symbol on his chest as he chanted with fellow senior pro-Russian officials and even lit a torch at Mariupol’s memorial for the victims of fascism in a display of breathtaking arrogance.
Similar Victory Day rallies were held in other cities including Melitopol, Energodar, Kherson and Staroblesk to rub Ukrainians’ noses in the Russian invasion.
The celebrations are held in commemoration of the Soviet Union’s defeat over Nazi Germany in 1945, but is now coinciding with Russia’s atrocities against civilians in Ukraine.
Kremlin puppet Denis Pushilin marches through Mariupol parading the traditional ribbon of St George today
In Melitopol (pictured), pro-Russian supporters waved Soviet and Russian flags for the military parade
In Berdyansk, Zaporozhye region, a huge Russian flag was paraded through the streets today
Soldiers and separatists marched through the Russian-controlled streets waving flags and chanting in support of Putin and the motherland.
The anniversary marks the Soviet Union’s WWII victory but is now used to display Russia’s latest weaponry in a show of strength to the West.
The Kremlin has made unproven claims it is carrying out a ‘deNazification’ mission in Ukraine which is overrun with far-right nationalists.
Yet throughout the barbaric invasion, Putin’s forces have shelled hospitals and schools, destroyed Holocaust memorial sites, butchered and raped civilians, and even set up ‘filtration camps’ which have chilling echoes to Nazi concentration camps.
In Energodar, in the north-western part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, hundreds took to the streets for the anniversary parade
In Nova Kakhovka, a city in the Kherson oblast of Ukraine, Russians chanted as they marched to commemorate the defeat of the Nazis in 1945
Children joined in on the Victory Day marches in Ukraine, where Russia is accused of carrying out war crimes
Soldiers and separatists marched through the Russian-controlled streets waving flags and chanting in support of Putin and the motherland
Just this weekend, up to 60 sheltering civilians were feared killed after Russian airstrikes on a school in Luhansk.
But two days after the alleged war crimes, one of many believed to have been carried out by Russia, its forces are celebrating the historic defeat of Nazism
The parades mirror celebrations back home where Putin gave a chest-beating speech to his troops in Moscow – telling soldiers that they are now fighting for the security of the nation against what he called Western plans to invade.
Many Western analysts had believed Putin wanted to declare victory over Ukraine by Victory Day before forces stalled in the face of defiant Ukrainians.
Seeking to re-frame his war in Ukraine as a war between Russia and the West, he declared NATO to be the aggressor and said he is trying to deescalate the situation with a ‘special military operation’ against a ‘neo-Nazi’ regime in Kyiv, declaring that launching the attack was ‘the only right decision’ he could have taken.
He also sought to twist the truth of what is happening on the ground in Ukraine, hailing a day of ‘great victory’ despite Russia’s battlefield defeats and telling his men they are fighting a just war.
‘Everything indicated that a clash with the neo-Nazis, the Banderites [Ukrainian Nazi sympathisers], backed by the United States and their junior partners, was inevitable,’ he said.
‘We saw military infrastructure being ramped up, hundreds of military advisers working and regular deliveries of modern weapons from NATO. (The level of) danger was increasing every day. Russia preventively rebuffed the aggressor. It was necessary, timely and … right. The decision of a sovereign, strong, independent country.’
Vladimir Putin congratulated his troops on a ‘day of great victory’ as he addressed a Victory Day parade in Moscow today, twisting the truth of what is happening on the ground in Ukraine
Thousands of Russian troops formed up in the Red Square as Russia marked the day Nazi Germany surrendered in 1945, marking the end of the Second World War in Europe
Putin used his speech to re-frame the war in Ukraine as a war against Western aggression and told his troops they are fighting for the security of Russia against what he claimed were plans to invade
Russian troops in Donbas are fighting on ‘their land’, he claimed, peddling his warped world view in which Ukraine is not a real country and Ukrainians are simply Russians waiting to be reintegrated into the motherland.
But he stopped short of what many had feared: An official declaration of war on Kyiv which would have allowed him to mobilise Russia’s military reserves and conscript civilians in order to escalate fighting across the border.
The parade was much slimmed-down from previous years, with an aerial display that was due to feature his ‘Doomsday jet’ – allowing him to continue ruling Russia in the event of a nuclear blast – was axed at the last minute due to ‘bad weather’, though rumours and light cloud in Moscow suggested it could be due to fears of sabotage.
The vehicle parade was also downsized from previous years, featuring almost a third fewer than in 2020 because Russia has committed – and lost – so many of its ground forces in Ukraine.
None-the-less, it still featured dozens of Russian tank, armoured vehicles, and nuclear missiles launchers that paraded alongside thousands of goose-stepping troops before Putin walked to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to lay a wreath as the national anthem played.
A Soviet-era motorbike driven by soldiers dressed in Second World War uniforms and emblazoned on the side with the Ukraine ‘Z’ war symbol takes part in a parade in Vladivostok earlier in the day
A Russian intercontinental ballistic missile – though to be the RS-24 Yars capable of carrying up to 10 warheads – drives through the Red Square during Victory Day celebrations
Russian T-72B3M tanks take part in a downsized military parade through Moscow’s Red Square as part of Victory Day events in Moscow, commemorating Soviet victory over Nazi Germany
A T-34 tank – the main battle tank of the Soviet military during the Second World War – flies a Soviet banner as it processes through the Red Square during Victory Day events in Moscow
It came hours after a similar parade took place in Russia’s far-eastern outpost of Vladivostok, where a Soviet-era motorbike emblazoned with the ‘Z’ symbol that has become synonymous with the Ukraine war took pride of place among tanks streaming Soviet banners.
But even as Putin declared victory in Moscow, fighting was still raging between Russian forces and Ukrainian holding out in the Donbas region – with a fresh artillery barrage striking the city of Mariupol, where an unknown number of Kyiv’s troops are making a last stand inside a steel mill.
The mill is the only part of the city not overtaken by the invaders. Its defeat would deprive Ukraine of a vital port and allow Russia to establish a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.
The Ukrainian military’s General Staff warned of a high probability of missile strikes and said that Russian troops were seizing ‘personal documents from the local population without good reason’ in Russian-controlled areas of Zaporizhzhia – the city where many fleeing Mariupol have gathered. The military alleged Russian troops were seizing documents to force residents to join in Victory Day commemorations.