Russia celebrated its annual Victory Day on Tuesday with President Vladimir Putin giving a 10-minute speech at Red Square, where he lashed out at the West for "unleashing the real war on Russia."
Victory Day is celebrated in Russia to mark the anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two. The highlight of the day is the Victory Day parade which displays Russia's military might. Reports say this year the celebration is muted due to the ongoing war with Ukraine.
Addressing the country before the Victory Day parade, Putin said the world was at a key turning point and Russians were "engaged in a patriotic struggle for the future of their country."
"Today, civilisation is again at a decisive turning point. A real war has been unleashed against our homeland. We have repulsed international terrorism, we will protect the inhabitants of Donbas, we will ensure our security," Putin said.
He said Russia had no unfriendly nations in the West or the East, adding that he wanted a peaceful future. "As the majority of people on this planet we want to see the future peaceful, free and stable," he said. "We believe any ideology of supremacy due to its nature is repulsive, criminal and deadly.”
He blamed the West for sowing seeds of "hatred and Russophobia" and said that Moscow was defending its sovereignty while praising the soldiers engaged in the special military operation
"Today here today, participants of the special military operation they are professional soldiers and those who have come to the ranks of the army as part of the partial mobilisation (…) I welcome you friends," Putin said.
"I greet all of you fighting for Russia on the battlefield. All those on duty now, during the Great Patriotic War, our heroic ancestors proved that there is nothing mightier and stronger than our unity."
The President, however, did not mince words when attacking Ukraine, stating that the country has become a hostage to its Western masters. "The Ukrainian nation has become hostage to a coup which led to a criminal regime led by its Western masters. It has become a pawn to their cruel and selfish plans," Putin said.
Amid the preparations, Russia rained missiles on Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv. Ukraine's air defences destroyed 23 of 25 missiles fired, including at the capital Kyiv, Reuters quoted Ukrainian officials.
"Overnight into the 'sacred' May 9, (they) launched an attack on the territory of Ukraine," Ukraine's air force said on its Telegram messaging app. Sergei Popko, head of the Kyiv city military administration, said the Russians were trying to kill civilians. "As at the front, the plans of the aggressor failed."
According to Kyiv officials, debris, however, fell on a house in the Holosiivskyi district in the southwest of Kyiv but caused little damage.