President Vladimir Putin has invoked the spirit of the Soviet army that defeated Nazi Germany at Stalingrad 80 years ago, declaring that Russia will defeat Ukraine, possibly under the rule of the new incarnation of Nazism.
In a fiery speech in Volgograd, known as Stalingrad until 1961, Putin condemned Germany’s armed support. Ukraine And this is not the first time he has said that he is ready to use all of Russia’s arsenals, including nuclear weapons.
“Unfortunately, we find that the ideology of Nazism has resurfaced in modern forms and threatens our country’s security once again.” Putin He spoke to an audience of army officers and members of local patriot and youth groups.
“We have to repel the attacks of Western groups again and again. It is unbelievable, but this is a fact. “
Russian officials have painted something akin to a war with the Nazis since Russian troops entered Ukraine almost a year ago.
Ukraine, part of the Soviet Union and itself ravaged by Hitler’s armed forces, rejects these parallels as a false pretext for a war of imperial conquest.
Stalingrad was the bloodiest battle of World War II in 1942-1943, when the Soviet Red Army lost more than one million casualties.
Putin said the battle of World War II had become a symbol of “the immortal nature of our people”, evoking the spirit of Stalingrad’s defenders and explaining why he thought Russia would win Ukraine.
“Those who expect to draw European countries, including Germany, into a new war with Russia… and win Russia on the battlefield, know that a modern war with Russia will be very different for them. You obviously don’t understand,” he added.
“We don’t send tanks to their borders, but we have the means to respond. It doesn’t end with the use of armored vehicles. Everyone needs to understand that.”
After Putin finished his speech, the audience gave him a standing ovation.
Putin previously laid flowers at the grave of the Soviet marshal who oversaw the defense of Stalingrad, and visited the city’s main memorial, where he held a minute’s silence in honor of those who died during the fighting.
Thousands of people lined the streets of Volgograd to watch the Victory Parade. Airplanes flew overhead, passing modern and WWII-era tanks and armored vehicles.
Some of the modern vehicles were painted with the letter “V”, the symbol used by the Russian military in Ukraine.
61-year-old Irina Zolotreva, who said her relatives fought in Stalingrad, saw parallels with Ukraine.
“Our country is fighting for justice and freedom.
The centerpiece of the commemoration was the Mamayev Kurgan Memorial Complex on a hilltop overlooking the Volga River, which towered over a colossal statue of a woman wielding a giant sword called “Call of the Motherland”.
Five months of fighting reduced the city named after Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to rubble, claiming an estimated two million dead and wounded on both sides.
A new bust of Stalin was erected Wednesday in Volgograd, along with two other Soviet Marshals Georgiy Zhukov and Alexander Vasilyevsky.
Despite Stalin’s record of presiding over famines that killed millions and political repression that killed hundreds of thousands, in recent years Russian politicians and school textbooks have transformed the Soviet Union into a superpower. It emphasizes his role as a wartime leader.