Monday, May 9, 2022

WATCH: President Volodymyr Zelensky Video Statement Marking Allied Victory in Europe in 1945

Yesterday. A big day for propaganda and statesmanship.

The full speech is here: "Zelensky releases video on day of remembrance: 'We hear "never again" differently'."

And at the New York Times, "Both Sides Harden Positions on Anniversary of Nazi Defeat in Europe":

PARIS — On a day of commemoration of the end of World War II in Europe, the war in Ukraine was marked by posturing and signaling on Sunday, as each side ramped up its rhetoric and resolve.

Leaders of the world’s wealthiest democracies vowed to end their dependence on Russian energy and ensure that Russia does not triumph in its “unprovoked, unjustifiable and illegal aggression,” as President Vladimir V. Putin pursued his indiscriminate bombardment of eastern Ukraine and orchestrated celebrations for Russia’s Victory Day holiday on Monday.

A statement by the Group of 7 major industrialized nations said that on a day when Europe recalled the devastation of World War II and its millions of victims, including those from the Soviet Union, Mr. Putin’s “actions bring shame on Russia and the historic sacrifices of its people.”

The leaders, signaling to Mr. Putin that their unrelenting support of Ukraine would only grow, said, “We remain united in our resolve that President Putin must not win his war against Ukraine.” The memory of all those who fought for freedom in World War II, the statement said, obliged them “to continue fighting for it today.”

The tone was firm, with no mention of any potential diplomacy or cease-fire.

In Moscow, as fighter jets streaked across the sky and nuclear weapons were put on display in preparation for Victory Day, Mr. Putin appeared to signal back to Western leaders that he was determined to double down on the war until he could conjure something that might be claimed as victory.

There was fresh evidence of that on Sunday, as rescuers picked through the rubble in Bilohorivka, a village in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine where a Russian bomb had flattened a school building the day before, killing people sheltering there, local authorities said.

“Most likely, all 60 people who remain under the rubble are now dead,” Gov. Serhiy Haidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app. But it was unclear how many people were in fact in the school and that toll may prove inflated. If confirmed, it would be one of the deadliest single Russian attacks since the war began in February.

Despite the World War II commemorations in most of Europe on Sunday and in Russia on Monday, a painful reminder of the tens of millions of people killed, there was no indication that the war in Ukraine was anywhere near ending. If anything, all signals pointed in the opposite direction. Russian attacks on Ukrainian towns and villages met a crescendo of Western rhetoric, accompanied by the constant danger of escalation.

Mr. Putin, whose steady militarization of Russian society in recent years has turned the May 9 celebration of the Soviet defeat of the Nazis into an annual apotheosis of a resurgent nation’s might, is expected to portray a war of repeated setbacks in Ukraine as a successful drive to “de-Nazify” a neighboring nation whose very existence he denies.

His much-anticipated speech may go further, possibly signaling that whatever conquest in Ukraine there has been up to now will become permanent through annexation. Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and began stirring military conflict in the eastern Donbas region...

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine released a black-and-white video address on Sunday marking the Allied victory in 1945. Standing in front of a destroyed apartment block in a Kyiv suburb hit hard by Russian troops before their withdrawal from the region around the capital, he said, “We pay our respect to everyone who defended the planet against Nazism during World War II.”

Mr. Putin has portrayed Mr. Zelensky, who is Jewish, as the leader of a nation threatening Russia with revived Nazism. His aim has been to instill the spirit of the Great Patriotic War, as World War II is known in Russia, among Russian troops, but to little apparent avail.

In the vast Azovstal steel mill that is the last remaining part of Mariupol not under Russian control, Ukrainian troops again rejected Russian deadlines to surrender. In a virtual news conference, Lt. Illya Samoilenko, an officer in a Ukrainian National Guard battalion known as the Azov regiment, said: “We are basically dead men. Most of us know this. That is why we fight.”

Capt. Sviatoslav Palamar, a deputy commander of the regiment, said, “We don’t have much time, we are under constant shelling,” with attacks from Russian tanks, artillery, airplanes and snipers.

The remaining civilians in the steel plant were evacuated on Saturday. Local officials estimate the death toll in the city at over 20,000...

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