Speaking at the military parade on Moscow’s Red Square, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Russian citizens on the occasion of the 77th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War.
"Dear citizens of Russia, dear war veterans, comrades soldiers and sailors, sergeants and warrant officers, midshipmen and sergeant majors, comrades officers, generals and admirals, I wish you a happy Victory Day!" he said in a speech ahead of a military parade on Moscow’s Red Square.
It will always be a sacred duty to defend the country when its future is at stake, the head of state pointed out. "True love for the country is what guided militiamen led by Minin and Pozharsky, those who attacked the enemy on the field of Borodino and fought the enemy on the outskirts of Moscow and Leningrad, Kiev and Minsk, Stalingrad and Kursk, Sevastopol and Kharkov," Putin emphasized.
The Russian leader noted that May 9, 1945, was forever inscribed in history as a date marking the triumph of the unified Soviet people, their unity, spiritual power and unprecedented heroism at the front and in the rear. "Victory Day is near and dear to all of us. There is not a single family in Russia that was not affected by the Great Patriotic War. Its memory lives on," Putin said, adding that the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who had fought in the war would take part in an Immortal Regiment march later in the day, carrying the photos of soldiers killed at the front and deceased war veterans.
Putin emphasized that Russia was proud of the unconquered and brave generation of victors. "It is our duty to preserve the memory of those who defeated Nazism and commanded us to remain alert and make every effort to prevent the terror of a world war from happening again," he stated.
"Russia has always called for creating a system of equal and indivisible security, a system that is vitally needed for the entire international community," the Russian leader stressed.
"In December last year, we proposed concluding an agreement on security guarantees and Russia called on the West for an honest dialogue, for a search for reasonable compromise solutions and respect for the interests of each other. All in vain! NATO countries did not want to hear us," Putin said.
This stance maintained by Western countries meant that "they actually had quite different plans," the Russian leader stressed. "And we saw that," he said.
"There were open preparations for another punitive operation [in Donbass], for an incursion into our historic lands, including Crimea. Kiev announced possible acquisition of nuclear weapons, and the NATO bloc started active military colonization of territories belonging to us. So, an absolutely unacceptable threat for us was created, directly near our borders," the president said.
According to Putin, "all this signaled that confrontation with neo-Nazis and pro-Bandera forces, on whom the US and its junior partners placed a stake, would be inevitable."
"We saw how military infrastructure was unfolding, how hundreds of foreign advisers began to work and there were regular shipments of the most advanced weapons from NATO countries. The danger was growing with every passing day. Russia gave a pre-emptive rebuff to aggression. This was a forced, timely and solely correct decision — a decision by a sovereign, strong and independent country," Putin stressed.
"We are aware that American war veterans who wished to visit Moscow for the parade were actually banned from doing that. However, I would like them to know that we are proud of their feats and contribution to our common victory," Putin pointed out.
"We honor the troops of all allied armies - the Americans, the British, the French - as well as those who participated in the resistance, the brave soldiers and partisans of China, all those who defeated Nazism and militarism," the Russian president added.
"Today, Donbass militia fighters together with Russian army combatants are fighting on their land where the squads of Svyatoslav and Vladimir Monomakh, soldiers of Rumyantsev and Potyomkin, Suvorov and Brusilov routed the enemy, where heroes of the Great Patriotic War Nikolai Vatutin, Sidor Kovpak and Lyudmila Pavlichenko fought to the bitter end," the Russian leader said.
"I am now addressing our armed forces and Donbass militia fighters. You are fighting for the Motherland, for its future so that no one forgets the lessons of World War Two and so that there is no place in the world for executioners, members of punitive squads and Neo-Nazis," Putin said.
"Today we bow our heads before the bright memory of all whose lives were taken by the Great Patriotic War, before the memory of sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, grandfathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, relatives, friends," the Russian leader stressed.