At the annual Victory Day commemoration of Russia’s defeat of Nazi invaders during World War II, President Vladimir Putin made what observers are describing as a slam at the West for holding “double standards” and indulging “criminal behavior,” by which he meant supporting terrorism.
The New York Times notes the event has become a “festival of Soviet nostalgia,” featuring citizens in Red Army uniforms and Putin greeting his actual soldiers as “comrades.”
The Russian president also enjoyed a parade of military hardware similar to what his country has deployed in Syria — even a Buk anti-aircraft missile, of the type believed to have downed a passenger airliner over Ukraine in 2014.
While Putin was notably short of gratitude for Russia’s allies in the fight against Nazi Germany, he did talk about working with the U.S. and Europe to create a “modern, nonaligned system of security” to combat the “global threat” of terrorism.
That’s when he took his shot at the West: “Comrades, history lessons teach us that peace on Earth is not established by itself; that one needs to be cautious; that double standards as well as shortsighted indulgence of those who nurture criminal plans are impermissible.”
As the Times suggests, he was most likely referring to the “moderate” Syrian rebel groups supported by the Obama administration. Like the regime of dictator Bashar Assad, Russia regards all armed opponents of the Syrian government as terrorists.
Fox News observes that Putin’s call for a “non-bloc system of international security” echoes “Russia’s frequent criticism of the West and the NATO alliance.”
USA Today describes the Victory Day parade as originally a “local, grass-roots effort to commemorate veterans who have already passed away,” which has been “taken over by politicians pursuing a nationalist, pro-Kremlin agenda.” They add:
This politicization has had an isolating effect on an event that should be about celebrating a common victory. Less than half of some 70 world leaders invited to attend last year’s 70th anniversary showed up. This year, the Kremlin did not send out special invitations, while diplomats from neighboring Lithuania refused to attend, citing “Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.”