KYIV - President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday that Ukraine would not allow Russia to appropriate victory in World War II, speaking on the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany.
“Today we celebrate Victory Day over Nazism. 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,” the Ukrainian leader said.
Zelensky listed several Ukrainian towns and cities currently under control of invading Russian forces, saying that Ukrainians during World War II had ousted Nazi Germany’s forces from these regions.
“The names of these cities inspire us today. They give us faith that we will drive the occupiers from our land,” Zelensky said in the video address, listing Mariupol, Kherson, and the Crimean peninsula by name. “We won then. We will win now,” the Ukrainian president added.
Ukraine was invaded by Russia in late February and Moscow claimed its operation was in part to “de-Nazify” the country.
Ukraine and Russia have likened actions by the other side’s army to those of Nazi Germany, whose defeat by the Soviet Union in 1945 is celebrated in ex-Soviet countries on May 9.
Ukrainians are fighting back in Luhansk region after Russian units cross key river
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense says that Russian forces are trying to develop their offensive in the Luhansk region with “continuous attempts” to cross the Siverskyi Donets river near Belahorivka. Col. Oleksandr MotuzyanyAk, the spokesperson for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, said the Russians had built three pontoon crossings across the river and were supporting ground troops with artillery and aircraft. He said the Russians were aiming to cut off Lysychansk, a town on the frontlines some ten miles (about 16 kilometers) from one of the pontoon bridges identified on satellite imagery. If successful, the Russian advance might be able to cut Ukrainian supply lines to the defenders of Lysychansk and Severodonetsk.
But images reviewed by CNN indicate that at least one pontoon bridge has already been destroyed, with ruined tanks and other equipment half-submerged in the river.