Watch live: ‘West was preparing to invade our land,’ Putin says in Victory Day speech

Russia celebrates its 1945 victory over Nazi Germany on Monday with a show of military might even as its army battles Kyiv's forces in the east of Ukraine, where 60 people were killed in an air strike on a school sheltering civilians. Follow FRANCE 24's full coverage of Russia's Victory Day parade and the ongoing war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

9:40am: 'Every soldier's death is painful for us', says Putin

Putin says Russian troops and volunteers deployed in Ukraine's Donbas are fighting for their Motherland.

"You are fighting for your Motherland, its future," he says in his Victory Day speech in Moscow.

"The death of every soldier and officer is painful for us," he says. "The state will do everything to take care of these families."

He finishes his speech with a rallying cry to the assembled soldiers: "For Russia, For Victory, Hurrah!"

9:30am: NATO 'an obvious threat' to Russia, says Putin

Putin claims the Wests was preparing a punitive operation in Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, where Russia's military operations are now focused.

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He says Russia "urged Europe to find a fair compromise, but they didn't want to hear us".

"In Kyiv they were saying they might get nuclear weapons and NATO started exploring the lands close to us and that became an obvious threat to our country and to our borders," Putin adds. "Everything was telling us that there is a need to fight."

9:20am: Russian forces defending 'Motherland' in Ukraine, says Putin

The Russian president has begun his speech by telling Russian troops they are defending their country in Ukraine.

The West was "preparing for the invasion of our land, including Crimea," he says.

🔴: #Russia 🇷🇺 celebrates its 1945 victory over Nazi Germany on Monday with a show of military might even as its army battles Kyiv's forces in the east of Ukraine 🇺🇦

Watch President Vladimir Putin's speech #live on FRANCE 24 ⤵️

— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) May 9, 2022

9:10am: Victory Day parade gets underway in Moscow

The Victory Day parade has begun in Moscow's Red Square.

Soldiers in full dress uniform are carrying Russian and Soviet flags past veterans and dignitaries including President Vladimir Putin, who is about to address the crowd.

Click on the player above to watch Putin's address live.

9:05am: 'Opposing views of history' come to fore as Moscow celebrates Victory Day

Victory Day has become "like a religion today", says Oleg Kobtzeff, professor of international politics at the American University of Paris.

"What's wiped out from memory is that among the 20 million killed [during World War II], it's pretty much Belarussian and Ukrainian civilians that paid a high price," he says.

8:45am: What to look out for at this year's Victory Day parade

The annual show in Red Square commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany has become so ritualized that one year’s parade is barely distinguishable from others. But this year’s observance of Russia’s most important patriotic holiday carries exceptional weight.

As Russian troops fight gruelling battles in Ukraine and unleash torrents of missiles and bombs, both Russian and foreign observers will watch it for signs of what could come next in the conflict.

Daniel Hawkins has the latest from Moscow.

8:35am: 'We will win,' says Ukraine's Zelensky

Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky has issued a statement moments before Russia marks its Victory Day anniversary in Moscow. He says his country is fighting for a new victory, this time over Russian invaders.

"On the Day of Victory over Nazism, we are fighting for a new victory. The road to it is difficult, but we have no doubt that we will win," he said in a written address.

Zelensky said Ukrainians were a free people who had fought to defend their land many times in history and had their "own path".

"Today we are waging war on this path and we will not give anyone a single piece of our land (…) and we will not give anyone a single piece of our history," he said.

"We are proud of our ancestors who, together with other nations in the anti-Hitler coalition, defeated Nazism. And we will not allow anyone to annex this victory, we will not allow it to be appropriated."

7:50am: What are Putin's options?

The annual military parade in Moscow's Red Square marks the country's victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. It's a chance to remember the sacrifices of World War Two, when an estimated 27 million Soviet citizens died, by far the greatest loss of any country.

Under Vladimir Putin, Victory Day has also become a show of strength of troops and military hardware. But after months of war against its neighbour Ukraine, Russia is devoid of any real form of military victory that it can celebrate.

Frank Ledwige, a former military intelligence officer, looks at the various options on Putin's table as he prepares to mark the anniversary.

7:30am: Russia has 'nothing to celebrate', says Washington

Eleven weeks into a devastating and costly war in Ukraine, Russia's Vladimir Putin has nothing to offer his people as he prepares to celebrate the country's national Victory Day parade, says the US ambassador to the United Nations.

“They have nothing to celebrate,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador, said of the Russians, speaking on CNN.

“They have not succeeded in defeating the Ukrainians. They have not succeeded in dividing the world or dividing NATO. And they have only succeeded in isolating themselves internationally and becoming a pariah state around the globe.”

7:20am: 'Kramatorsk will survive': FRANCE 24 reports from frontline city

The city of Kramatorsk became the capital of Ukraine's Donetsk province after separatists took control of Donetsk itself during the 2014 war. Now close to the front lines, it has suffered regular attacks including a deadly missile strike on its train station – pushing many people to flee. However, a significant number of residents have stayed behind, determined to stick it out. Our correspondents Luke Shrago and Tarek Kai sent this report.

6:50am: EU should seize Russian reserves to rebuild Ukraine, says foreign policy chief

The European Union should consider seizing frozen Russian foreign exchange reserves to help pay for the cost of rebuilding Ukraine after the war, its foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has said in an interview with the Financial Times.

The EU and its western allies have put curbs on the Russian central bank's international reserves since the country began its invasion of Ukraine.

Borrell told the newspaper it would be logical for the EU to do what the US did with Afghan central bank assets after the Taliban took over there.

"We have the money in our pockets, and someone has to explain to me why it is good for the Afghan money and not good for the Russian money," Borrell said.

Washington froze the Afghan funds after the military takeover by the Taliban and plans to use some to help the Afghan people while holding the rest to possibly satisfy terrorism-related lawsuits against the Islamist militants.

5:05am: Russia readies Victory Day parade as fight for east Ukraine rages

Russia will celebrate its 1945 victory over Nazi Germany Monday with a show of military might as its army battles Kyiv's forces in the east of Ukraine, where 60 people were killed in an air strike on a school sheltering civilians.

President Vladimir Putin is set to flaunt Russia's power in celebration of Victory Day, in an event that has taken on great prominence as he seeks to justify a war that has gone on far longer — and at far higher cost — than expected.

But as huge missiles are towed through Moscow's Red Square and a planned flyover will feature fighter jets showing support for the war, Ukraine will be desperately battling to stop a hoped-for military breakthrough.

And civilians continue to bear the brunt of the bloodshed, with President Volodymyr Zelensky confirming that 60 were killed in a Russian air strike on a school in the eastern village of Bilogorivka — one of the highest one-day tolls since Moscow's forces invaded on February 24.

Ukrainian refugee Alisa, 4, from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. © Gleb Garanich, Reuters

11:40pm: UK slaps fresh sanctions on Russia, Belarus

The UK on Sunday said it was slapping fresh sanctions on Russia and Belarus over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, including import tariffs on precious metals and export bans.

The import tariffs, including on platinum and palladium, target trade worth £1.4 billion ($1.7 billion or 1.6 billion euros), while export bans worth £250 million target Russia's manufacturing and heavy industry, said a statement from the Department for International Trade.

"This far-reaching package of sanctions will inflict further damage on the Russian war machine," said Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

"It is part of a wider coordinated effort by the many countries around the world who are horrified by Russia's conduct and determined to bring to bear our economic might to persuade (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to change course."

The UK's new sanctions bring the total value of products subjected to full or partial import and export sanctions to more than £4 billion.

11:30pm: Russia has 'forgotten' all that mattered to WWII victors, says Zelensky

Russia has forgotten everything that mattered to the victors of World War II, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday, a day before Moscow commemorates the Soviet Union's defeat of Nazi Germany.

Denouncing Russia's heavy shelling in the east of the country including one strike on a school that he says killed 60 people, he added: "Russia has forgotten everything that was important to the victors of World War II."

While normal people associated the anniversary with peace and the slogan "Never again!", Russia was continuing its attacks, said Zelensky in his nightly address.

Russia will on Monday mark the 77th anniversary since victory in what Russia calls the Great Patriotic War.

10:16pm: Evacuees from Azovstal plant reach Zaporizhzhia

A convoy of buses carrying evacuees from southeastern Ukraine, including some 40 civilians who had been holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in besieged Mariupol, arrived on Sunday in the Ukrainian-controlled city of Zaporizhzhia, a UN official said.

Osnat Lubrani, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, said eight buses had arrived in the city. About 40 of the 174 evacuees on board had been rescued from the steel plant. Lubrani said in a statement that the evacuations brought to more than 600 the number of people evacuated from the area in the past 10 days.

"Our work, however, is not yet done," she said in the statement. "The UN is aware that scores of people who wanted to join the evacuation convoys over the last days were unable to do so. We will continue our engagement with both parties to the conflict to make sure that those who want to leave have the guarantees to do so safely and in the direction of their choice."

8:21pm: 'Putin is responsible for heinous war crimes', says Canadian PM Justin Trudeau

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Sunday that Russian leader Vladimir Putin was responsible for “war crimes,” during a visit to Ukraine where he met with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“It is clear that Vladimir Putin is responsible for heinous war crimes,” Trudeau said at a news conference with the Ukrainian leader, adding that “there must be accountability” and that he had "witnessed first-hand the brutality of Russia's illegal war".

6:58 pm Putin's actions in Ukraine 'bring shame on Russia': G7

Russian President Vladimir Putin's “unprovoked war of aggression” in Ukraine has brought “shame on Russia and the historic sacrifices of its people," the G7 group of wealthy nations said Sunday in a statement.

“Russia has violated the international rules-based order, particularly the UN Charter, conceived after the Second World War to spare successive generations from the scourge of war,” said the statement, made as the G7 met by videoconference and commemorated the end of World War II in Europe.

“We remain united in our resolve that President Putin must not win his war against Ukraine,” it said.

6:27pm: US sanctions target Russian media

The United States will sanction three major Russian television stations, and deny all Russian companies access to consulting and accounting services offered by US firms, according to a statement released Sunday by the White House.

The moves against Joint Stock Company Channel One Russia, Television Station Russia-1, and Joint Stock Company NTV Broadcasting Company prohibit any US company from financing them through advertising or selling them equipment.

6:13pm: G7 countries commit to stop importing Russian oil

The entire G7 club of rich nations is "committed to phasing out or banning the import of Russian oil," the White House said Sunday, escalating pressure on Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine.

"This will hit hard at the main artery of Putin's economy and deny him the revenue he needs to fund his war," the Biden administration said in a statement, without specifying exactly what commitments the G7 members — France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Japan, Britain and the US — have made.

The United States, which was not a major consumer of Russian hydrocarbons, has already banned their import.

4:34pm: Canadian PM Justin Trudeau visits Ukrainian town of Irpin

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made on Sunday an unannounced visit to the Ukrainian town of Irpin, which had been temporary held by Russian troops, the town's mayor said on Telegram.

“I’ve just had an honor to meet with the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, who came to Irpin to see with his own eyes all the horror which Russian occupiers have caused to our town,” Oleksandr Markushyn said on his Telegram channel.

4:15pm: US first lady makes unannounced visit to Ukraine

US first lady Jill Biden made an unannounced visit to western Ukraine on Sunday, holding a surprise Mother’s Day meeting with the nation’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, as Russia presses its punishing war in the eastern regions.

Biden traveled under the cloak of secrecy, becoming the latest high-profile American to enter Ukraine during its 10-week-old conflict with Russia. “I wanted to come on Mother’s Day,” Biden told Zelenska. “I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop and this war has been brutal and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine.”

The first lady traveled by vehicle to the town of Uzhhorod, about a 10-minute drive from a Slovakian village that borders Ukraine. She spent about two hours in Ukraine.

On this Mother’s Day, my heart is with you, First Lady Olena Zelenska, and all of the brave and resilient mothers of Ukraine.

— Jill Biden (@FLOTUS) May 8, 2022

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and REUTERS)

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