Putin to send ‘doomsday’ warning to West at Russia’s WWII Victory Parade

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LONDON, May 6 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin will send a “doomsday” warning to the West when he leads celebrations to mark the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany on Monday, waving the vast Russian firepower as its forces battle in Ukraine.

Defiant in the face of deep Western isolation since he ordered the invasion of neighboring Russia, Putin will speak in Red Square before a parade of troops, tanks, rockets and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

A flyover over St. Basil’s Cathedral will include supersonic fighters, Tu-160 strategic bombers and, for the first time since 2010, the Il-80 “doomsday” command plane, which would ferry Russian top brass to case of nuclear war, the Ministry of Defense said.

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In this scenario, the Il-80 is designed to become the Russian President‘s roving command center. It’s packed with technology, but the specific details are Russian state secrets.

The 69-year-old Kremlin chief has repeatedly compared the war in Ukraine to the challenge the Soviet Union faced during Adolf Hitler’s Nazi invasion in 1941.

“The attempt to appease the aggressor on the eve of the Great Patriotic War turned out to be a mistake that cost our people dearly,” Putin said February 24, announcing what he called a military operation. special in Ukraine.

“We will not make such a mistake a second time, we have no right.”

Putin presents the war in Ukraine as a battle to protect Russian speakers there from Nazi persecution and to guard against what he calls the US threat to Russia posed by NATO enlargement. Ukraine and the West dismiss the assertion of fascism as nonsense and say that Putin is waging an unprovoked war of aggression.

The Soviet Union lost 27 million people in World War II, more than any other country, and Putin has railed in recent years against what Moscow sees as Western attempts to revise the history of the war to minimize the Soviet victory.

Besides the defeat of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in 1812, the defeat of Nazi Germany is Russia’s most revered military triumph, although the two catastrophic invasions from the west left Russia deeply sensitive to its borders.

The war in Ukraine will cast a shadow over this Victory Day.

The Russian invasion killed thousands and displaced nearly 10 million people. It has also left Russia in the grip of harsh Western sanctions and raised fears of a wider confrontation between Russia and the United States – by far the world’s biggest nuclear powers.

Although 11,000 troops marching through Red Square with what the Defense Ministry said will be 131 pieces of military hardware will put on a grand spectacle, the conflict in Ukraine has exposed the weaknesses of the Russian armed forces despite Putin’s attempt during of his two decades in power to halt the post-Soviet decline.

The Kremlin has been denied a quick victory and Russia’s economy – hit hard by sanctions – faces the worst contraction since the years following the fall of the Soviet Union.

Less than two decades ago, US President George W. Bush joined Putin for May 9 celebrations in Moscow. This year, no Western leaders were invited, the Kremlin said.

The United States and its allies have stepped up arms deliveries to Ukraine and Putin has been called on by some members of the Russian military to unleash greater firepower on Ukraine, two sources told Reuters close to the armed forces. Moscow told the West that its arms supplies were legitimate targets.

Prior to May 9, speculation swirled in Moscow and Western capitals that Putin was preparing some sort of special announcement on Ukraine, perhaps an outright declaration of war or even a national mobilization.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed those suggestions on Wednesday, calling them “nonsense.”

The Kremlin did not respond to requests for comment on what Putin might say in his speech, which will be delivered from the Red Square rostrum outside Vladimir Lenin’s mausoleum.

Last year Putin criticized Western exceptionalism and what he said was the rise of neo-Nazism and Russophobia – trends he returned to again and again when addressing the issue of Ukraine .

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Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge Editing by Frances Kerry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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