In both Ukraine and Russia, May 9 is marked as the day Nazi Germany was defeated in World War II.
This year, the national occasion was celebrated in very different ways in the capitals of the two countries.
In kyiv, unlike Moscow, there was no Victory Day parade. Instead, Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky posted on social media a video of himself walking down one of the city’s empty shopping streets.
He passed tank barriers and sandbags as the video flashed back to earlier peaceful parties and parades, with a much less haggard-looking Zelensky watching a flight.
“We are proud of our ancestors who, together with other nations in the anti-Hitler coalition, defeated Nazism,” said Zelensky, who then named several Ukrainian cities, now under Russian occupation or assault, where the Germans were defeated for more seven years old. decades ago.
“They drove the Nazis out of all of Ukraine, but the cities I mentioned inspire us especially today. They give us faith that we will drive the occupants out of our own land safely.”
“This is not a war of two armies. This is a war of two worldviews. We are free people going our own way.”
The scene in Moscow was very different on Monday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told a large military parade in Moscow’s Red Square that Russian troops are in eastern Ukraine to “defend the motherland.”
He insisted that the invasion of Ukraine (which he continues to call a “special military operation”) was necessary and had been provoked by the West.
There was speculation that Putin would use the event to make a major announcement about Russia’s next steps in its war against Ukraine. he didn’t. Instead, he used his speech to insist again that Russia acted in self-defense.
“The danger was increasing,” Putin said, arguing that “Russia has preemptively repulsed aggression” through a military campaign that was “forced, timely and the only correct decision of a sovereign, powerful and independent country.”
He repeatedly claimed Ukraine was planning to attack Russia, something kyiv has steadfastly denied. The United Nations has overwhelmingly condemned Russia’s invasion and has repeatedly called for Russian troops to withdraw.
Russia has suffered significant losses of soldiers and equipment in Ukraine. Many believed that Putin would use his May 9 speech to order a general mobilization.
Dominque Arel, professor of Ukrainian studies at the University of Ottawa, said he wonders what a general mobilization order might have accomplished.
“Military experts tell us [there’s] there is no guarantee that it would really strengthen the Russian army, because here we are talking about recruits who are poorly trained. Reserves, also very poorly trained,” he said.
Throughout eastern Ukraine, air-raid sirens sounded at night and throughout the day. Four missile attacks were reported in the Odessa region. Fierce fighting was also reported in the area of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, the last holdout of besieged Ukrainian forces in the ruined city.