Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Sunday evil has returned to Ukraine as he gave an emotional address for Victory Day, when Europe commemorates the formal surrender of Germany to the Allies in World War Two.
The life that soldiers fought for in that war came to an end on Feb. 24 when Russian forces invaded, he said in a video message.
“The evil has returned. Again!” Zelenskiy said. “In a different form, under different slogans, but for the same purpose.”
But he said Ukraine and its allies will win.
“No evil can escape responsibility, it cannot hide in a bunker,” he added.
Nazi leader Adolf Hitler spent the last days of his life in a bunker in Berlin where he committed suicide in the final days of the war.
Moscow calls its actions since Feb. 24 a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and rid it what it calls “Nazis” and anti-Russian nationalism fomented by the West. Ukraine and the West say Russia launched an unprovoked war of aggression.
The invasion in Ukraine has killed thousands and displaced nearly 10 million people. It has left Russia in the grip of tough Western sanctions, and has raised fears of a wider confrontation between Russia and the West.
In Russia, Victory Day on May 9 is one of the country’s most important national events – a remembrance of the enormous sacrifices made by the Soviet Union in defeating Nazi Germany.
Victory Day is a major event in Russia and Putin will preside on Monday over a parade in Moscow’s Red Square of troops, tanks, rockets and intercontinental ballistic missiles, showing military might even as his forces fight on in Ukraine.
His speech could offer clues on the future of the war. Russia’s efforts have been stymied by logistical and equipment problems and high casualties in the face of fierce resistance.
U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns said on Saturday that Putin was convinced “doubling down” on the conflict would improve the outcome for Russia.
“He’s in a frame of mind in which he doesn’t believe he can afford to lose,” Burns told a Financial Times event in Washington on Saturday.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders were to hold a video call with Zelenskiy on Sunday in a show of unity ahead of Victory Day celebrations on Monday in Russia.
Underlining Western support for Ukraine, Britain pledged to provide a further 1.3 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) in military support and aid, double its previous spending commitments.