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Putin Claims West Waging War on Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his speech during the Victory Day military parade marking the 78th anniversary of the end of World War II in Red square in Moscow, Russia, Monday, May 9, 2023.

UPDATED WITH U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL COMMENTS: MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday told his country’s traditional Victory Day parade on Moscow’s Red Square that the West’s “untamed ambitions, arrogance and impunity” are driving “a real war” against Russia.

“Today civilization is once again at a decisive turning point,” Putin said at the annual commemorations celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. “A real war has been unleashed against our Motherland.”

Putin added that "the future of our statehood and our people depend on you."

"For Russia, for our armed forces, for victory! Hurrah!"

He blasted “Western globalist elites” that “harp about their exclusivity, pit people against each other, divide society and provoke bloody conflicts and coups, sow hatred, Russophobia.”

Putin has repeatedly framed the war in Ukraine as a proxy conflict with the West. The Kremlin’s official narrative of the war depicts an existential battle with the West, which in Moscow’s view is merely using Ukraine as a tool to destroy Russia, re-write its history and crush its traditional values. That version of events has dominated Russian state media coverage of the war.

Putin’s remarks came just hours after the Kremlin’s forces fired its latest barrage of cruise missiles at Ukraine, which Russia invaded more than 14 months ago.”

Ukrainian authorities said air defenses destroyed 23 of the 25 missiles that were launched. The air force said in a Telegram post that eight Kalibr cruise missiles were fired from carriers in the Black Sea toward the east and 17 from strategic aircraft.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said peace negotiations to end the conflict in Ukraine were "not possible at this moment," in an interview published by Spanish daily El Pais on Tuesday.

His statement came as the leaders of Russia and Ukraine called for victory during events commemorating the end of World War II.

"It is clear that the (two) parties are completely absorbed in this war" and "are convinced that they can win", the UN chief was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Guterres said he hoped it was possible "in the future" to bring Russia and Ukraine to the negotiating table.

The Russian victory parade this year appeared shorter and much more pared-back than usual. Only some 8,000 troops marched in Red Square this year — the lowest number since 2008. Even the parade in 2020, the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, featured some 13,000 soldiers, and last year, 11,000 troops took part.

The Immortal Regiment processions, in which crowds take to the streets holding portraits of relatives who died or served in World War II — another pillar of the holiday — have also been canceled in multiple cities. Some speculated, that the reason for this was not security but the fact that Russians might bring portraits of relatives who died in Ukraine to those processions, illustrating the scale of Russia’s losses in the drawn-out conflict.

The Red Square guest list was also light amid Putin’s broad diplomatic isolation over the war. Initially, only one foreign leader was expected to attend this year’s parade — Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov. That was one more foreign guest than last year, when no leaders went.

At the last minute on Monday, officials announced that the leaders of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were heading to Moscow as well.