Victory in Europe day celebrates the anniversary of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender at the end of World War 2, bringing with it huge historical significance. The UK was joined by numerous countries in helping to defeat fascism, including China, the US and commonwealth nations such as Canada and Australia. Another important member of the Allied forces was the Soviet Union, meaning VE Day is celebrated in Russia as well.
However, current relations between Moscow and the West are fractured, meaning Vladimir Putin’s VE Day warning from last year provoked concern in Europe and the US.
The Russian President vowed to ensure Russia’s military strength in a speech to thousands of soldiers and veterans on Red Square in Moscow.
He said: “The lessons of the past war are relevant once again. We have done and will do all that is necessary to guarantee the high capabilities of our armed forces.”
He added that those in the modern Russian army remember the “oath” of Soviet soldiers who fought Nazi Germany, adding: “I die but I will not surrender.”
Russian military flaunted its weapons on the day including vehicles which rolled through the streets of Moscow.
In recent years Moscow has stepped up military activity abroad, intervening on behalf of Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria’s civil war and backing separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.
In 2014, Russia annexed the disputed region of Crimea, sparking outrage in the West which led to tough economic sanctions.
Russia has also said it would build up its military presence in the Arctic, seeking to assert its influence in the strategic region.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine has cost thousands of lives and left the region in ruin.
In recent years, the UK and Russia have come to blows – notably during the Salisbury attack of 2018.
The incident saw Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia poisoned by Russian nationals via the use of the Novichok nerve agent.
Yulia regained consciousness and was able to speak. She was discharged from the hospital on April 9, 2018, while Sergei was also in a critical condition until he regained consciousness one month after the attack.
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The violent act which took place on British soil saw Russia-UK relations severed.
Then Prime Minister Theresa May expelled 23 Russian diplomats from the UK 10 days after the attack, laying down a statement of defiance to President Vladimir Putin in Russia.
When a journalist asked President Putin about the attack, he expressed anger at what the world’s media had made of it.
Putin said, according to the Moscow Times, Russia was targeted in a “politicised Russophobic approach” in the Skripal case.
He added: “It’s just a way to keep Russia from developing, as a possible competitor.
“If there was no [poisoning of] Skripal, they would have made something else up.”
When the attack occurred in March 2018, President Putin also clashed with Mr Johnson, who blamed the Russian President personally and lambasted the Kremlin.
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