Just days after Vladimir Putin’s inauguration ceremony marking the beginning of his second six-year term as president of Russia, Putin arrived in Red Square Wednesday morning to deliver a speech to commemorate the 73rd anniversary of the Red Army’s conquest of Berlin – the day that marked the end of World War II in Europe.
And following a ceremony that included laying a wreath on the tomb of the unknown soldier, Putin stepped up to the microphone to warn about the dangers of “aggressive nationalism” and “claims to exceptionalism” that almost brought Europe under the control of Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
These issues are bubbling up again, Putin suggested, in a not-too-subtle dig at the US and President Donald Trump, who just the day before had disappointed Russia and the deal’s other signatories by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (otherwise known as the Iran deal).
“We remember the tragedy of two world wars, the lessons of history,” Putin said at a military parade on Moscow’s Red Square on Wednesday, marking the anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
“We understand how serious these threats are. All humankind and countries need to recognize that the world is very fragile.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had lobbied against the Iran agreement, is set to meet Putin later in the Kremlin after attending the parade and ceremony.
Putin on Tuesday said that Russia was ready to consider a French plan to create an additional side accord to address some of Trump’s concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile program and its funding of militant groups elsewhere in the region. Though Iran has rejected that idea, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said the country will remain in the accord and try to work things out with its European partners.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that the country remains committed to the accord.
Before the ceremony began, Putin stopped to invite a World War II veteran (presumably a retired major general) to join his entourage after the man had been brusquely shunted aside by a member of Putin’s security detail.
Some 13,000 people marched through Red Square on Wednesday, joined by 150 military vehicles including the new Armata tanks. The event ended in an aerial display by 75 Russian fighter planes, including the Su-57 stealth fighter.
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