Putin Presides Over Victory Day Parade in Moscow

Western leaders boycotting event in protest Russia's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin presided over a military parade to mark Saturday's 70th anniversary of the Soviet military defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

During his address to the annual Victory Day parade in Red Square, Putin said basic principles of international cooperation are increasingly being ignored — an apparent swipe at the United States.

In his short speech on Saturday, Putin said that despite the importance of international cooperation, "in the past decades we have seen attempts to create a unipolar world," a phrase used by Russia to criticize the United States' purported aim to dominate world affairs. Western leaders are boycotting the event at Moscow's Red Square to protest Russia's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Russia denies accusations by the West that it is arming separatists in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. More than 6,000 civilians have been killed in the conflict.

Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and leaders from 20 countries attended the parade, which featured 16,000 soldiers and 200 military vehicles, and was to end with a flyover by 140 aircraft.

The parade was a show of strength by Putin, who denounced as "absurd" Western sanctions imposed on Russia after it annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine last year.

A Russia-backed ceasefire agreement reached in September has been violated by both the separatists and the Ukrainian army.

The conflict started in April last year.