MOSCOW: Russia is not seeking to end its war in Ukraine before Victory Day on May 9, its foreign minister has said, as the country appears poised to celebrate the key anniversary under the cloud of deadly conflict.
Speaking to Italian outlet Mediaset, Sergei Lavrov insisted that Moscow would not rush to conclude its so-called “special military operation” in time for the anniversary, which celebrates Nazi Germany’s surrender to allied forces, including the then Soviet Union, in 1945. .
“Our army will not artificially adjust its actions to any date, including Victory Day,” Lavrov said in the interview published on Sunday.
“The pace of the operation in Ukraine depends, first of all, on the need to minimize any risk to the civilian population and Russian military personnel,” he added.
Russia normally celebrates Victory Day in grand style, with a grand military parade in central Moscow and a speech by President Vladimir Putin praising the country’s leading role in defeating fascism in Europe.
But this year’s celebrations will take place against the backdrop of Moscow’s bloody military campaign in Ukraine, which Putin has justified with claims that the former Soviet country requires “denazification” and other allusions to World War II.
“We will solemnly celebrate May 9, as we always do. Let’s remember those who fell for the liberation of Russia and other republics of the former USSR, for the liberation of Europe from the Nazi plague,” Lavrov said.
Thousands of civilians have been killed and millions have been displaced by Russia’s invasion, which began on February 24.
Moscow has said that more than a thousand of its soldiers have been killed in the operation. Ukraine claims that Russia’s losses are much higher.