Putin scolds West and blames NATO for Ukraine invasion during Victory Day speech
'Russia has pre-emptively repulsed an aggression,' Putin tells military parade
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Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech from the Red Square in Moscow to mark Victory Day (the annual national holiday celebrating the Soviet Union's defeat of Nazi Germany during the Second World War).
Putin blamed the West for the campaign in Russia, and made no dramatic declarations or announcements, despite predictions from many observers who thought Putin may capitalize on the patriotism of Victory Day to escalate tensions.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky marked the day with his own speech, saying: "Very soon there will be two Victory Days in Ukraine."
The U.S., Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Japan have all pledged to ban or phase out imports of Russian oil.
Updates from the ground on Day 75 of the war
Russian troops are still trying to capture a steel mill where Ukrainian fighters are holed up and refuse to surrender. It's the last remaining stronghold in the strategic port city of Mariupol.
Intense combat continues in Eastern Ukraine. Russia refocused its invasion on the east after withdrawing from the north, where troops were slowed by Ukrainian resistance.
More than 60 are feared dead after a Russian bomb hit a school being used as a shelter in Bilohorivka.
Russian shelling has killed two boys, ages 11 and 14, in Pryvillia.
A 12-year-old boy in Dnipropetrovsk province was killed by a cluster munition that he found after a Russian attack.
No hints from Putin about next steps
In a speech delivered from Russia's famous Red Square, Russian President Vladimir Putin marked Victory Day and blamed Western policies for Moscow's military action in Ukraine, drawing parallels between the Red Army's fight against Nazi Germany and the Russian forces' action in Ukraine.
While Western analysts in recent weeks had widely expected Putin to use the holiday to trumpet some kind of victory in Ukraine or announce an escalation, he did neither. Instead, he sought to justify the war again as a necessary response to what he portrayed as a hostile Ukraine.
"The danger was rising," he said, and went on to say that, "Russia has pre-emptively repulsed an aggression," in what he described as a "forced, timely and the only correct decision by a sovereign, powerful and independent country."
He steered clear of battlefield specifics, failing to mention the potentially pivotal battle for the vital southern port of Mariupol.
Putin has repeatedly alleged that Ukraine was planning to attack Russia, which Kyiv has flatly denied. The United Nations has overwhelmingly condemned the invasion and has repeatedly called for Russian troops to withdraw.
Putin also scolded the West for failing to heed Russian demands for security guarantees and a rollback to NATO's expansion, arguing that it left Moscow no other choice but to launch an action in Ukraine.
Russia 'starting to lose' the war
But in the end, he gave no signal as to where the war is headed or how he might intend to salvage it. Specifically, he left unanswered the question of whether or how Russia will marshal more forces for a continuing war.
"Without concrete steps to build a new force, Russia can't fight a long war, and the clock starts ticking on the failure of their army in Ukraine," tweeted Phillips P. O'Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
Nigel Gould Davies, a former British ambassador to Belarus, said: "Russia has not won this war. It's starting to lose it."
He said that unless Russia has a major breakthrough, "the balance of advantages will shift steadily in favour of Ukraine, especially as Ukraine gets access to growing volumes of increasingly sophisticated Western military equipment."
WATCH | Analyst discusses Russia's shortage of soldiers:
Russians push back, protest war
Despite Russia's efforts to crack down on dissent, antiwar sentiment has seeped through.
A few scattered protesters were detained around the country on Victory Day, and editors at one pro-Kremlin media outlet revolted by briefly publishing a few-dozen stories criticizing Putin and the invasion.
In Poland, antiwar protesters threw red paint at Russia's ambassador to Poland, Sergey Andreev, as he arrived at a cemetery in Warsaw to pay respects to Red Army soldiers who died during the Second World War.
Zelensky says 'we will win'
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared in his own Victory Day address that his country would eventually defeat the Russians.
In a video released to mark the holiday, he said: "Very soon there will be two Victory Days in Ukraine."
"We have never fought against anyone. We always fight for ourselves.... We are fighting for freedom, for our children, and therefore we will win," Zelensky said.
In a clear reference to Putin, Zelensky added: "The one who is repeating the horrific crimes of Hitler's regime today, following Nazi philosophy, copying everything they did — he is doomed."
Warning Russia may increase indiscriminate bombing
On Monday, Britain's Defence Ministry said in its daily assessment that Russian forces were running short of precision-guided munitions and could increasingly subject Ukrainian towns and cities to "intense and indiscriminate bombardments with little or no regard for civilian casualties."
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine - 09 May 2022<br> <br>Find out more about the UK government's response: <a href="https://t.co/ZS4aYLi4O3">https://t.co/ZS4aYLi4O3</a><br><br>🇺🇦 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StandWithUkraine?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StandWithUkraine</a> 🇺🇦 <a href="https://t.co/9AdJqkOLMg">pic.twitter.com/9AdJqkOLMg</a>—@DefenceHQ
In fact, more than 60 people were feared dead after a Russian bomb flattened a Ukrainian school being used as a shelter in Bilohorivka, an eastern village, Ukrainian officials said.
In Mariupol, a crucial southern port city of Ukraine, Russian forces continue to pummel a seaside steel mill where an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters are making their last stand.
The mill is the only part of the city not overtaken by the invaders. Its defeat would deprive Ukraine of a vital port and allow Russia to establish a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014. It would also give the Kremlin a badly needed success.
Odesa, too, has increasingly come under bombardment in recent days. The Ukrainian military said Russian forces fired seven missiles from the air at the city on Monday night, hitting a shopping centre and a warehouse.
One person was killed and five were wounded, the military said.
The war in the country long known as the "breadbasket of Europe" has disrupted global food supplies.
"I saw silos full of grain, wheat and corn ready for export," Charles Michel, president of the European Council, lamented in a tweet after a visit to Odesa. "This badly needed food is stranded because of the Russian war and blockade of Black sea ports. Causing dramatic consequences for vulnerable countries."
In his nightly video address, Zelensky said that Europe, as it did in the Second World War, once again has to think about the price to be paid for peace on the continent.
He added that Europe has to think about the price to be paid by Russia "for bringing the evil of total war to Europe again."
New signs of support for Ukraine
As Victory Day turned attention toward Putin, Western leaders and celebrities showed new signs of support for Ukraine.
The Group of Seven industrial democracies — U.S., Canada, Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Japan — pledged to ban or phase out imports of Russian oil.
The United States announced other new sanctions, cutting off Western advertising from Russia's three biggest TV stations, banning U.S. accounting and consulting firms from providing services, and cutting off Russia's industrial sector from wood products, industrial engines, boilers and bulldozers.
On Sunday, U.S. first lady Jill Biden met with her Ukrainian counterpart, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a surprise visit to Kyiv and pledged support.
Irish rock group U2's frontman Bono and his bandmate The Edge visited Kyiv to pay tribute as well. They played a 40-minute concert in a metro station in Kyiv, singing the 1960s song Stand by Me.
With files from Reuters