News ID: 302904
Published: 0149 GMT May 09, 2021

Putin says will 'firmly' defend Russian interests amid tensions with West

Putin says will 'firmly' defend Russian interests amid tensions with West

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his speech during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia, on May 9, 2021, marking the 76th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.

President Vladimir Putin on Sunday vowed that Russia will "firmly" defend national interests and denounced the return of "Russophobia", as the country marked the 76th anniversary of victory in World War II.

His speech to thousands of soldiers and veterans on Red Square came as tensions between Moscow and the West in recent weeks have soared over the conflict in Ukraine and other issues, AFP reported.

"The Soviet people kept their sacred oath, defended the homeland and freed the countries of Europe from the black plague," Putin told the crowd.

"Russia consistently defends international law. At the same time, we will firmly defend our national interests to ensure the safety of our people," Putin said.

The Russian leader also condemned a creeping return of ideologies of the time, when "slogans of racial and national superiority, of anti-Semitism and Russophobia, became ever more cynical".

Putin decried “attempts to rewrite history, to justify traitors and criminals, on whose hands lies the blood of hundreds of thousands of peaceful people,” according to AP.

“Unfortunately, many of the ideologies of the Nazis, those who were obsessed with the delusional theory of their exclusiveness, are again trying to be put into service,” he said.

His speech came at the start of an annual parade that military hardware roll through the streets of Moscow.

More than 12,000 military personnel took part in Sunday's parade, as well as some 190 pieces of military equipment and 76 fighter jets and helicopters, according to AFP.

Victory Day parades, which only became an annual event after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and have taken on increasing importance in projecting Russia's renewed military might during Putin's two decades in power, also took place Sunday in dozens of cities across the nation.

A survey this week by state-run pollster VTsIOM showed that 69 percent of Russians view Victory Day as the most important holiday on the calendar.

"For me and my family, this holiday marks the victory of the entire Russian people," Yulia Gulevskikh, a 31-year-old accountant, told AFP in the Far East city of Vladivostok.

"We are proud, remember, and honor all our relatives and friends. And all the brave soldiers," she added, noting she was happy the parade took place despite pandemic measures.

This year's parade came at a time when Moscow's relations with the West are acutely strained over issues ranging from the conflict in Ukraine to the fate of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

The United States and Russia have expelled each other's diplomats in recent months in a series of retaliatory moves and Moscow and EU member states have been involved in a similar tit-for-tat diplomatic dispute.




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