Leader: There must be a new Victory in Europe

As much of Europe marked the anniversary of VE Day and the defeat of Nazi Germany yesterday, the country’s foreign minister urged people to stand up for peace, freedom and democracy.

Ahead of a planned visit to Ukraine, Annalena Baerbock said the day should remind Germans never again to be on the wrong side of history in the struggle for freedom and humanity.

Meanwhile Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky gave an emotional speech in which he said that “evil has returned” to Ukraine, and that Russia would not escape responsibility.

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Russians will mark the defeat of Nazi Germany today with Victory Day, which will include the huge annual parade of soldiers and military hardware through Red Square.

Demonstrators hold posters during an anti-war protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Sunday, May 8a day before Russia celebrates Victory Day, marking 77 years of the victory in the Second World War. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)

At first glance, preparations for this year’s celebration seemed the same as normal yesterday, but with troops fighting and dying again in Europe the mood was very different.

Some Russians fear President Vladimir Putin will use Victory Day to declare that what the Kremlin has previously called a “special military operation” will now become a full-fledged war.

Putin has falsley described the invasion of Ukraine as a campaign against “Nazis”. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said the Russian leader is “laying the ground for being able to say, ‘Look, this is now a war against Nazis, and what I need is more people’”.

Fed a steady diet of propaganda, many Russians have cheered on their troops in Ukraine, comparing them to “our grandfathers” who fought the Germans. But what are they cheering?

In the latest atrocity carried out at Putin’s behest, a Russian bomb flattened a school sheltering about 90 people in its basement, leaving scores of people feared dead.

It is nothing short of abominable for Putin to invoke the heroes who defeated Nazi Germany as he wages his campaign against Ukraine. Mr Zelensky himself is a democratically-elected Jewish president who lost relatives in the Holocaust.

As we remember those who stood up for peace, freedom and democracy during the Second World War, it is imperative that minds in both West and East remain focused on where the true enemy lies.

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