Russian strongman Vladimir Putin railed against American “exceptionalism” and “moral degradation” on Monday during the country’s annual “Victory Day” parade, celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany that Moscow claims for itself.
The Putin regime has for years denied any significant American contributions to ending World War II – going as far as to declare the legendary D-Day landing of American troops at Normandy “not a game-changer” – instead giving all the credit for the fall of Adolf Hitler to the communist Soviet Union under mass murderer Joseph Stalin. Russia marks its contributions to World War II on May 9 with an annual military parade and remarks from Putin.
This year, the leader used his remarks to justify the ongoing full-scale invasion of Ukraine, calling it “the only correct choice” and accusing anti-Russian forces in the country of being “Nazis.” Putin did not go as far as he did in remarks immediately before launching the invasion in February in denying Ukraine’s right to sovereignty, focusing instead on calling the occupied regions of Ukraine Russia’s “historic lands” and accusing the United States of threatening Russia.
The official English-language transcript of Putin’s remarks features little mention of Nazi Germany, focusing instead on the primary power responsible for its defeat, the United States.
“The United States began claiming their exceptionalism, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, thus denigrating not just the entire world but also their satellites, who have to pretend not to see anything, and to obediently put up with it,” Putin asserted. “But we are a different country. Russia has a different character. We will never give up our love for our Motherland, our faith and traditional values, our ancestors’ customs and respect for all peoples and cultures.”
“Meanwhile, the West seems to be set to cancel these millennia-old values. Such moral degradation underlies the cynical falsifications of World War II history, escalating Russophobia, praising traitors, mocking their victims’ memory and crossing out the courage of those who won the Victory through suffering,” Putin continued.
Putin also addressed the ongoing war in Ukraine, again blaming America and “the West” generally for the hostilities.
“Last December we proposed signing a treaty on security guarantees. Russia urged the West to hold an honest dialogue in search for meaningful and compromising solutions, and to take account of each other’s interests. All in vain,” Putin claimed. “NATO countries did not want to heed us, which means they had totally different plans. And we saw it.”
By December 2021, Russia had been illegally occupying Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and waging war through proxies in the eastern Donbass region of Ukraine for seven years.
Putin’s speech on Monday admitted that the ongoing escalation in Ukraine – from a proxy war between 2014 and 2021 to an overt Russian military invasion in February – was a “pre-emptive strike,” but insisted it was a necessary one.
“It was a forced, timely and the only correct decision. A decision by a sovereign, strong and independent country,” Putin insisted.
“Another punitive operation in Donbass, an invasion of our historic lands, including Crimea, was openly in the making. Kyiv declared that it could attain nuclear weapons. The NATO bloc launched an active military build-up on the territories adjacent to us,” Putin claimed. “Thus, an absolutely unacceptable threat to us was steadily being created right on our borders. There was every indication that a clash with neo-Nazis and Banderites backed by the United States and their minions was unavoidable.”
“Banderite” is a term used for supporters of Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian Nazi collaborator during World War II.
Putin asserted that, contrary to widespread reports of Russian forces committing war crimes in Ukraine, his troops were “fighting for our Motherland, its future, so that nobody forgets the lessons of World War II, so that there is no place in the world for torturers, death squads and Nazis.”
Contrary to corporate media reports predicting a massive show of military force and “doomsday” nuclear warnings from Putin on Victory Day, Russia held a relatively subdued event, even canceling a reportedly scheduled military flyover. The Kremlin estimated that about 11,000 “personnel,” meaning troops and auxiliary marchers, participated in the event, and the government displayed 131 “units of military equipment.”
In 2021, over 12,000 troops marched and Russia claimed to display nearly 200 military units.
Prior to the event, Forbes reported that Moscow had planned to scale down the parade by about 35 percent compared to last year’s event.
Despite facing protests attracting thousands of people in multiple major cities, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, and resulting in hundreds of arrests, the Russian government insists that Putin and his military operation in Ukraine remain popular.
On Friday, the state-run news agency Tass claimed that a national poll by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center found Putin to have an 81-percent approval rating. Slightly over half of Russians approved of the government generally, the poll alleged.