Russian VE parade snubbed by western leaders
Russian President Vladimir Putin presided over the largest military parade since the end of World War II as Moscow commemorated the anniversary of the end of the war in Europe.
No western leaders were present on the reviewing stand due to the Russian annexation of Crimea and their continuing support for rebels in Ukraine.
Putin also had some choice words for the US:
"In recent decades the basic principles of international cooperation have been ignored ever more frequently. We see how a military-bloc mentality is gaining momentum," said Putin.
While Putin thanked "the people of Great Britain, France and the United States for their contribution to victory" in World War II he said the West has tried to minimize Russia's contribution to the war effort, contending that nations like the U.S. have tried to "rewrite history" regarding World War II.
Putin said World War II demonstrated the strengths of international cooperation but, likely in a nod to U.S. visibility in world affairs, warned that "in the past decades we have seen attempts to create a unipolar world," according to the Associated Press.
Unmentioned during the ceremony was the infamous Nazi-Soviet Pact, signed two days before the start of the war, that enabled Hitler to invade Poland. A secret protocol in the treaty divvied up the Polish state between Germany and the Soviet Union.
The Russian people have apparently forgotten that little historical tidbit and are resentful at the no show by western leaders:
Jill Dougherty, a Russia expert at the Wilson Center and CNN's former Moscow bureau chief, said social media and TV reports indicate that many ordinary Russians feel insulted by the absence of Western leaders from the commemoration.
They feel it's a victory that primarily Russians won with their deaths and are angered that it is not being marked by other Allied nations, she said.
"There's a feeling of insult and anger," she said. "Unfortunately that plays very much into the feeling that's going on in Moscow right now, which is exactly about that -- insult by the West, a feeling that the West has become the enemy once again."
World War II is extremely important to Russians, she said, and provokes strong emotions in them.
Polish civilians killed by Russians and the 500,000 German women raped by Soviet soldiers could not be reached for comment.
There were some interesting characters sitting with Putin on the reviewing stand:
Presidents including China's Xi Jinping, India's Pranab Mukherjee and Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro joined their Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow's Red Square for the parade.
Many Western leaders have chosen to miss the event, however, in protest of Russia's alleged military involvement in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Moscow is accused by Kiev and the West of backing and equipping pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. It also annexed Ukraine's Crimea region a little over a year ago.
Also absent was North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who had been expected to attend until Moscow announced 10 days ago that "domestic affairs" would instead keep him at home. North Korean state media reported Saturday that the country had carried out a successful underwater test of a ballistic missile
A sober examination of Soviet actions both before and after Germany invaded might lessen the resentment of Russian citizens toward the west and understand their own country's role in not only winning the war, but starting it as well.