RUSSIA fired cruise missiles at Kyiv yesterday and paraded troops across Moscow’s Red Square for its annual celebration of victory in the Second World War, pared back amid shortages of manpower and arms at the front after a failed winter campaign in Ukraine.
In a fiery 10-minute speech in front of the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin thundered against “Western global elites” and said civilisation was at “a decisive turning point”. “A real war has been unleashed against our homeland,” said the Russian leader, who last year ordered what the West calls an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, destroying cities and killing thousands of civilians.
Underlining how the war has isolated Russia from most of Europe and pushed Ukraine closer to the West, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was visiting Kyiv, where she called Ukraine “the beating heart of today’s European values”. The holiday commemorating the Soviet victory in the Second World War is the most important day in the calendar in Russia under Putin, who casts his inva- sion of Ukraine as analogous to Russia’s fight against the Nazis.
Ukraine, which suffered proportionally greater losses than Russia in the Second World War, calls that an abuse of shared history to justify aggression. The parade was full of traditional pomp but unmistakably scaled down from previous years.
In place of phalanxes of modern battle tanks, a single vintage T-34 rolled across Red Square. The usual fighter jet flyover was cancelled. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Moscow had failed to capture Bakhmut despite a self-imposed deadline to give Putin a battlefield trophy in time for the holiday. Moscow regards capturing Bakhmut as a stepping stone towards taking other cities in Ukraine’s industrial east