Russian troops in Ukraine are fighting to liberate the region from “Nazi filth” just as their ancestors did during World War II, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday in his latest attempt to defend his unprovoked war as a fight against resurgent Nazism.
Mr. Putin‘s comments came just hours before the official start of Russia‘s annual May 9 Victory Day holiday, which marks the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.
This year’s May 9 commemoration carries extra weight for Mr. Putin and his commanders, who have come under increasing pressure to deliver a clear victory in Ukraine amid what so far has been an underwhelming and often blundering military campaign.
In his remarks, the Russian leader formally congratulated the leaders of the Donetsk and Luhansk republics, two breakaway enclaves in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region that Moscow recognizes as independent republics. Both areas officially remain a part of Ukraine.
“In his congratulations, the president of Russia particularly emphasized that, on this day, we pay our tribute of appreciation and respect to the warriors and home front workers, who crushed Nazism at a price of countless casualties and hardships,” the Kremlin said in a statement Sunday, according to the country’s state-run TASS news agency.
“It is a common duty today to prevent a restoration of Nazism that brought so much suffering to the people of various states,” Mr. Putin said, according to the Kremlin readout. “In his congratulation telegrams for the leaders of Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, the Russian leader noted that our servicemen, just like their ancestors, are fighting together to liberate their soil from the Nazi filth, and expressed his certainty that victory will be [ours], just like in 1945.”
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