Putin’s speech on Sunday came at the start of an annual parade that sees military equipment rolling through the streets of Moscow. More than 12,000 soldiers took part in the march, as well as some 190 military equipment and 76 combat aircraft and helicopters.
The parade marked the 76th anniversary of the victory of WWII over Nazi Germany.
“The Soviet people kept their sacred oath, defended their homeland and freed the countries of Europe from the Black Death,” Putin told the crowd.
“Russia systematically defends international law. At the same time, we will firmly defend our national interests to ensure the safety of our people. “
The Russian leader condemned what he called a creeping return of the ideologies of the era, when “slogans of racial and national superiority, anti-Semitism and Russophobia became increasingly cynical.”
“Unfortunately, many Nazi ideologies – those who were obsessed with the delusional theory of their exclusivity – are trying again to be brought into service,” Putin said.
The Victory Day Parades – which only became an annual event after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and which have assumed increasing importance in projecting Russia’s renewed military might over the two decades in Putin’s power – also took place in dozens of cities across the country.
Tensions with the West
Sunday’s commemorations came as Russia in recent weeks has seen its diplomats kicked out from a handful of European countries over spy scandals, while the United States and the European Union have imposed new sanctions in Moscow for the treatment of jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny and allegations of hacking. and cyber attacks.
Tensions have also exploded over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which erupted after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and where Moscow is widely seen as supporting pro-Russian separatists.
Clashes between the government and separatists have intensified since January in a conflict that has left more than 13,000 dead.
Last month, Russia mustered 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders and in the Crimea, its biggest build-up since 2014, though it announced a withdrawal from what many saw as a test for new US President Joe. Biden.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken flew to Kiev last week to show his support for Ukraine ahead of an expected summit between Putin and Biden next month.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy traveled with European diplomats to the pro-Russian secessionist Lugansk region on Saturday to commemorate the end of World War II.