Russia on Monday marked the the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
The following are quotes from a televised speech by President Vladimir Putin at the annual Victory Day parade in Red Square:
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On the decision to launch ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine
“We saw military infrastructure being ramped up, hundreds of military advisers working and regular deliveries of modern weapons from NATO. [The level of] danger was increasing every day. Russia preventively rebuffed the aggressor. It was necessary, timely and … right. The decision of a sovereign, strong, independent country.”
On security guarantees he demanded
“Despite disagreements in international relations, Russia has always advocated the creation of a system of equal and indivisible security, a system that is vital for the entire international community.
“In December last year, we proposed the conclusion of an agreement on security guarantees. Russia called on the West to enter an honest dialogue, in search of reasonable compromise solutions, to take each other’s interests into account. It was all in vain.”
“NATO countries did not want to listen to us, meaning that they in fact had entirely different plans, and we saw this. Openly, preparations were under way for another punitive operation in Donbas, the invasion of our historical lands, including Crimea.
“In Kyiv, they announced the possible acquisition of nuclear weapons, the NATO bloc began actively taking military control of territories adjacent to ours. As such, an absolutely unacceptable threat to us was systematically created, and moreover directly on our borders.
“Everything indicated that a clash with the neo-Nazis, the Banderites [Ukrainian Nazi sympathisers], backed by the United States and their junior partners, was inevitable.”
On eastern Ukraine
“Today, the volunteers of the Donbas, together with the soldiers of the Russian army, are fighting on their own lands.
“I am now addressing our armed forces and the Donbas volunteers. You are fighting for the Motherland, for its future, so that no one forgets the lessons of World War II – so there is no place in the world for executioners, punishers and Nazis.”
On military losses
“The death of each one of our soldiers and officers is our shared grief and an irreparable loss for their friends and relatives. The state, regions, companies and public organisations will do everything to care for and help these families. We will give special support to the children of dead and wounded comrades. A presidential decree on this was signed today.”
On Russia and the West
“The United States, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union, began talking about its exclusivity, abasing not only the whole world but also its satellites, which have to pretend they don’t see anything and obediently swallow it up. But we are a different country. Russia has a different character. We will never abandon our love for the Motherland, our faith and traditional values, the customs of our ancestors, and our respect for all peoples and cultures.”
“We know that American [WWII] veterans who wanted to attend the parade in Moscow were practically barred from doing so. But I want them to know: We are proud of your exploits, your contribution to the common victory.
“We honour all the soldiers of the allied armies – the Americans, the British, the French, the participants in the Resistance and the partisans of China – all those who defeated Nazism and militarism.”