Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow’s upcoming Victory Day celebrations on May 9 will have no bearing on the pace of its operations in Ukraine.
Speaking with the Italian outlet Mediaset, Lavrov insisted on Sunday that Moscow would not rush to wrap up its so-called “special military operation” in time for the anniversary, which celebrates Nazi Germany’s surrender to allied forces – including the then Soviet Union – in 1945.
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“Our military will not artificially adjust their actions to any date, including Victory Day,” Lavrov said.
“The pace of the operation in Ukraine depends, first of all, on the need to minimise any risks for the civilian population and Russian military personnel,” he added.
Russia typically marks Victory Day with a large military parade in central Moscow and a speech by President Vladimir Putin hailing the country’s leading role in the defeat of fascism in Europe.
But this year’s celebrations will come against the backdrop of Moscow’s bloody military campaign in Ukraine, which Putin has justified with claims the ex-Soviet country requires “denazification” and other allusions to World War II.
“We will solemnly celebrate May 9, as we always do. Remember those who fell for the liberation of Russia and other republics of the former USSR, for the liberation of Europe from the Nazi plague,” Lavrov said.
He added that Russia is committed to working to prevent a nuclear war from ever beginning.
Thousands of civilians have been killed and millions displaced by Russia’s invasion, which began on February 24.
Moscow has said more than 1,000 of its soldiers have been killed in the operation. Ukraine claims Russia’s losses are much higher.