Russian President Vladimir Putin joined the “Immortal Regiment” procession on Red Square in Moscow, holding a portrait of his father, a front-line soldier, the Kremlin said in a statement on Monday.
On May 9, as part of the “Immortal Regiment” campaign, people march in cities of Russia and abroad with portraits of relatives who participated in the Great Patriotic War.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday the differences in how Russia and the European Union have chosen to mark the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat shows they are “very different projects.”
“We have shown two very different faces of May 9th,” Macron said at a news conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Monday.
“On one side, there was a will to make a show of force, to intimidate and bellicose rhetoric. And here, there was a broad and civic gathering of citizens, of national and European representatives, to think about our future,” he continued.
Asked by a journalist if Putin’s stated desire to avoid confrontation was hypocritical, Macron replied that: “President Putin has taken a bellicose stance; we are clearly on the side of Ukraine,” but warned that there would be “a peace to build tomorrow” and that “it will not be achieved by excluding one another or through humiliation.”
Earlier, President Macron delivered a speech to the European Parliament, in which he said that “Ukraine, through its fight and its courage, is already today a heartfelt member of our Europe, of our family, of our union,” while warning that any formal Ukrainian accession to the EU could take decades.
More on Russia’s Victory Day: Global leaders and defense officials had spent weeks speculating about what Putin might reveal about his Ukraine plans in a speech at Russia’s Victory Day commemorations. The leader offered few clues on the direction of the conflict.
The Russian president used his speech to blend history with the present, banking on Russian nationalism on its most patriotic of holidays to justify his war.
CNN’s Angela Dewan contributed reporting to this post.