Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How Vladimir Putin’s skewed view of World War Two threatens his neighbors and the West

Russian President Vladimir Putin enters a hall to attend a meeting dedicated to the organisation of upcoming events and celebrations on Victory Day, marking the 1945 victory over Nazi Germany during World War Two on May 9, at the Kremlin in Moscow, March 17, 2015. REUTERS/Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool
By Lucian Kim, Reuters
April 13, 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin stands smiling between George W. Bush and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder as the U.S. president reaches out to shake hands with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. It was a photo-op that couldn’t be missed: the military parade in Moscow on May 9, 2005, marking the 60th anniversary of the Nazis’ capitulation. Despite widespread outrage over the U.S. invasion of Iraq, everybody could agree that the end of World War Two was worth celebrating together. Even Viktor Yushchenko, the first Ukrainian president who openly defied the Kremlin, came.

This May 9, Putin will be lucky if a couple of European presidents show up for the 70th anniversary. The annexation of Crimea and Russia’s support for militants in eastern Ukraine have made Kremlin invitations toxic. Few Western leaders will want to be seen at a Victory Day parade featuring 15,000 soldiers and 200 military vehicles, including the BUK anti-aircraft missile system believed to have shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine last summer.

Just five years ago, U.S. and other Allied troops marched in the Victory Day parade to commemorate the coalition that defeated Nazi Germany. Now Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is blaming “the Americans and the European Union’s aggressive core” for sabotaging the Kremlin’s party plans. The foreign dignitary likely to attract the most attention this year is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who is expected to make his first official trip abroad to attend the Moscow parade.

(More here.)

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