May 9 commemorates the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in 1945, and is widely celebrated as Victory Day. Not just Russia but several European countries celebrate Victory Day. However, the war in Ukraine undermines the celebrations this year. A day ahead of the day, Russia launched a wave of drone, missile and air strikes on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities.
Reports said that as many as 16 missile strikes targeted the cities of Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odesa regions. Apart from this, reports said Ukraine witnessed 61 airstrikes and 52 rocket salvos.
WHAT IS VICTORY DAY?
Victory Day is a day to honour the memory of those who lost their lives during the war and to express gratitude to the veterans who fought for freedom and democracy. Moscow celebrates Victory day every year with a military parade on Red Square. A wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Soldiers follows the parade, as well as fireworks and other festivities.
Russia’s first post-Soviet president Boris Yeltsin established Victory Day festivities as an annual event.
In many countries, parades, ceremonies, and speeches mark the day. The day is often observed as a national holiday, and schools, businesses, and government offices are closed.
WHAT IS UKRAINE’S STANCE ON VICTORY DAY?
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky pledged that Russian forces would be defeated in Ukraine like Nazi Germany was beaten in World War II, commemorating Victory in Europe Day. In a statement, he said, “All the old evil that modern Russia is bringing back will be defeated just as Nazism was defeated.” “Just as we destroyed evil together then, we are destroying a similar evil together now,” he added.
“Remembering the heroism of millions of Ukrainians in that war against Nazism, we see the same heroism in the actions of our soldiers now – the descendants of those who secured the victory—the surrender of Nazism that day, on May 8, 1945.
And we are proud of the heroism of the Ukrainian people! Then and now. Unfortunately, evil has returned. Like back then evil rushed to our cities and villages, so it is doing now, like back then it killed our people, so it is doing it now. Although now it is another aggressor, the goal is the same – enslavement or destruction,” he said.
“Now, as 80 years ago, Ukraine is fighting against total evil. Now, just like 80 years ago, Ukraine is fighting for the future – its own and that of the whole of Europe, the whole free world. Now, as 80 years ago, we rely on the common strength of free nations and know that together with them we will always be part of a free Europe that will not submit to evil. And together with all of free Europe, we will celebrate Europe Day on May 9 in Ukraine. A united Europe, the basis of which should be and will be peace. Our Europe, which Ukraine has always been, is, and will be a part of. Today, I signed the relevant decree, and every year from tomorrow, May 9, we will commemorate our historic unity – the unity of all Europeans who destroyed Nazism and will defeat racism,” said Zelensky.