President Vladimir Putin defended his decision to invade Ukraine in a speech on Victory Day RussiaMonday (9/5).
Putin said Russia’s aggression against Ukraine was a necessary deterrent as the West was “preparing to invade our lands, including Crimea.”
According to him, the West’s behavior has been seen in a number of movements that create “threats right near our borders.”
Putin is thought to be referring to NATO’s move to make neighboring Russia members of the defense bloc.
“Russia is doing aggression prevention. This is a forced and sovereign decision,” he was quoted as saying CNN.
He later told the Russian soldiers that “today, you fought for what your grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought for.”
Putin later thanked the separatist troops in eastern Ukraine, the Donbas, for helping in the offensive in the country.
“I want to speak to the troops in the Donbas. You are fighting for the motherland, for its future, so that the lessons from World War II are not forgotten,” Putin said.
Since the beginning of the invasion on February 24, Russia has focused on eastern Ukraine. He accused Ukraine of carrying out neo-Nazi attacks in the region.
Victory Day is celebrated every year in Russia as a celebration of the Soviet Union’s victory over the Nazis at the end of World War II.
“We bow our heads in memory of our comrades who died fighting for Russia,” Putin said.