Support The Moscow Times!

Putin to Commemorate World War II With EU, U.S. Leaders Despite Tensions

Vladimir Putin will meet Western leaders for the first time since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis.

President Vladimir Putin will meet Western leaders for the first time since the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis when he attends a World War II anniversary in France next month, the Russian Ambassador to Paris said Thursday.

U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are among those due to attend the June 6 ceremony in Normandy to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings that helped turn the tide of the war against Nazi Germany.

Ambassador Alexander Orlov confirmed Putin's planned attendance in comments to BFM television, after France's president and defense minister both said the Russian leader — accused by the West of destabilizing neighboring Ukraine — was still welcome to come.

"I have told Vladimir Putin, as representative of the Russian people, that he is welcome to attend the ceremony," President Francois Hollande said.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian went further, saying that canceling Putin's invitation would be a historical insult.

"It is in the order of things that (Putin) should be there," he told BFM.

The comments by Hollande and Le Drian came a day after Putin urged pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine not to go ahead with a referendum this weekend on breaking away from Ukraine. Moscow has denied Western accusations that it is orchestrating the rebellion in the east, where Ukrainian forces have been largely unable to reassert control.

Next month's ceremony commemorates the troop landings in 1944 that opened the Western Front in World War II and caught Hitler's forces in a giant pincer movement between the advancing Western allies and the Soviet army in the east.

"It was the landings that led to the Normandy campaign but the campaign would not have been successful without the Eastern front. In these moments of commemoration it is important that all of those who took part should be present," Le Drian said.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more