Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed Western policies for Moscow’s military action in Ukraine on Monday, during a speech at Moscow’s Victory Day celebrations.
Speaking at a military parade marking victory over the Nazis in the Second World War, Putin drew parallels between the Red Army’s fight against the Nazi troops and the Russian forces’ action in Ukraine.
He said the campaign in Ukraine was a timely and necessary move to ward off what he described as “an absolutely unacceptable threat just next to our borders.”
“The danger was rising” he said, and “Russia has pre-emptively repulsed an aggression” in what he described as a “forced, timely and the only correct decision by a sovereign, powerful and independent country.”
He has repeatedly alleged that Ukraine was planning to attack Russia, which Kyiv has flatly denied. The United Nations has overwhelmingly condemned the invasion and has repeatedly called for Russian troops to withdraw.
In his speech, Putin again scolded the West for failing to heed Russian demands for security guarantees and a rollback to NATO’s expansion, arguing that it left Moscow no other choice but to launch an action in Ukraine.
But he did not — at least so far — give any signal as to the next phase of the conflict, nor did he claim the complete capture of Mariupol, which his forces have bombarded and besieged for weeks.
A minute of silence was observed to honour the troops who fell in combat. Putin noted that some of the troops taking part in the parade have previously fought in Ukraine.