During a speech commemorating Russia's defeat of Nazi Germany at the end of World War Two, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated his baseless accusation that the West left him no choice but to invade Ukraine. Planned Victory Day air shows across Russia were canceled, raising questions as to why.
The speech provided little detail on how Russia planned to proceed in Ukraine. It followed days of speculation that the Russian leader would use the event to formally declare war on Ukraine, or order a mass mobilization of Russian forces to prosecute a war that has now stretched into its third month, with heavy Russian losses.
Here are some of the latest developments:
- Russia's muted Victory Day parade: Defense analysts noted a low-key parade, which saw thousands of troops assemble outside the Kremlin in the Red Square and the expected air portion of the annual event canceled due to weather. Putin said among the reasons for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was that the NATO alliance was surrounding Russia. UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace hit back at his claims, saying NATO only accounts for 6% of Russia's land border. "That’s not being surrounded if only 6% of your land border is NATO countries," Wallace said. "I think he is believing what he wants to believe – a slight shine of desperation,” Wallace added of Putin.
- Modest celebrations in occupied areas: There were small pro-Russian celebrations in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine, including Kherson, according to Russian state media. The head of the self-declared Luhansk People's Republic laid wreaths and in the southeastern city of Mariupol, flowers were laid at a memorial recently refurbished by Russian-backed separatists, according to Ukrainian officials.
- Russian ambassador to Poland doused with red paint: Sergei Andreev was covered in red paint while trying to lay a wreath at the cemetery of Soviet soldiers in Warsaw, according to Russian state media. Andreev later said that he was not injured.
- Russian pontoon bridge could threaten Ukraine's supply routes: Ukrainian officials raised the alarm about a Russian pontoon bridge across the Siversky Donets river, which was erected a few days ago and could enable Russian forces to threaten Ukrainian defenses and supply routes in the Luhansk region. "If they consolidate, they will be able to develop an offensive and get closer to the road, cutting off (the) Luhansk region. This will mean the loss of the single path to security, and connection with other regions," Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, said Monday.
- Russia bombards Odesa region: Four Onyx cruise missiles were fired by Russian forces at the Odesa region in southern Ukraine, a Ukrainian regional official said, as the Black Sea coast sees a significant uptick in missile attacks by Russia.
- Ukrainian counterattack in Kharkiv unfolds: The Ukrainian military says that Russia is holding back some of its forces within its borders to prevent a Ukrainian counterattack that has made some headway east of Kharkiv. Inside Ukraine, the general staff says the most intense activity is in Donetsk region, where Russian forces are trying to advance towards the town of Lyman, a major transport hub.
- Rebuild Ukraine with Russian foreign exchange reserves, says top diplomat: The European Union should consider using billions of dollars’ worth of Russian foreign exchange reserves to rebuild Ukraine after the war, the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said in an interview with the Financial Times on Monday.
- Dozens feared dead after bomb hits school sheltering Ukrainians: Ukraine has accused Russia of dropping a bomb on a school in the Luhansk region. Ninety people were said to be sheltering in the school; 60 are feared dead.