The following is The Spectator’s translation of Putin’s speech for victory day 2022.
Most respected citizens of Russia, dear veterans, comrade soldiers and sailors, sergeants and petty officers, midshipmen and ensigns, comrade officers, generals and admirals: I wish you all a happy great victory day! The defense of our homeland – when its fate hung in the balance – has always been sacred. With such feelings of genuine patriotism, Minin and Pozharsky’s People’s Militia rose up for the motherland, advanced to attack on the field of Borodin, fought the enemy on the outskirts of Moscow and Leningrad, Kyiv and Minsk, Stalingrad and Kursk, Sebastopol and Kharkov.
Just as in those days, today you are fighting for our people in the Donbas, for the security of our homeland: Russia. The 9 May 1945 has been immortalised in the global history books as a triumph for our united Soviet nation: its unifying and spiritual power, its unparalleled feats on the battlefront. Victory day is close and dear to each of us. There is not a single family in Russia whom the Great Patriotic War [the second world war] has not singed. The memory of the war will not fade. On this day, in the never-ending stream of the Immortal Regiment, are the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of heroes of the war. They carry photographs of their loved ones: of soldiers who were killed and remain youthful for eternity and veterans who have already passed away. We are proud of this unbroken, valiant generation of victors, that we are their heirs, and it is our duty to preserve the memory of those who destroyed Nazism, who have willed us to be vigilant, and to do everything we can to ensure that the horror of a global war is not repeated.
And therefore, regardless of any disagreements in international relations, Russia has always defended a system of equal and indivisible security. A system that is vitally necessary for the world. In December last year, we proposed to secure an agreement guaranteeing this security. Russia called on the West to engage in honest discussion to find fair compromises which accounted for each other’s interests. All of this was in vain! They didn’t want to listen to us. And this means that, in reality, they had entirely different plans and we have seen this.
Preparations for another punitive operation in the Donbas went on in the open: an invasion of lands which have historically been ours, including the Crimea. In Kyiv, they made announcements about potentially acquiring nuclear weapons, Nato began the active military assimilation of territories along our borders – which, for us, became an absolutely unacceptable threat, indeed directly at our borders.
All of this indicated that a clash with neo-Nazis and Banderites – on which the USA and its smaller companions have relied on – would be unavoidable. Let me repeat: we saw all this military infrastructure being set up. We saw hundreds of foreign advisors beginning to work, the regular deliveries of the most modern weaponry from Nato countries, the danger grew with each passing day. So Russia launched a preemptive attack against this aggression. It was necessary, timely and the only choice. The decision of a sovereign, strong, independent country.
Particularly after the collapse of the USSR, the US has talked about its exclusivity – belittling not only the rest of the world with this but also their ‘satellites’ who then have to pretend that they don’t notice this and must obediently swallow it all. But we are a different country. Russia has a different character. We will never reject love for our homeland, the truth or those traditional values, the customs of our forebearers, respect for all nations and cultures. But in the West it seems that these thousand-year-old values have been cancelled. This moral degradation has taken hold with the cynical falsification of the history of the second world war: stoking the flames of Russophobia, praising traitors, making a mockery of the memory of sacrifice, crossing out the bravery of those who achieved and endured victory.
It's obvious to us that the American veterans, who wanted to come to our parade in Moscow, were practically forbidden from doing so. But I want them to know, we are proud of your achievements, your contribution to our collective victory. We honour all soldiers of the allied armies: Americans, English, French, members of the resistance, the soldiers and partisans in China – all those who destroyed Nazism and militarism.
Respected comrades, today the militia in the Donbas, together with the forces of the Russian army, are fighting on their own territory. Where the enemy was struck down by the squads of Svyatoslav and Vladimir Monomach, [there were] the soldiers of Rumyantsev and Potemkin, Suvorov and Brusilov. Where the heroes of the Great Patriotic War fought to the death: Nikolai Vatutin, Sydir Kovpak, Liudmila Pavlichenko.
Now I would like to address our soldiers and militiamen in the Donbas. You are fighting for our homeland, for its future, so that no one can forget the lessons of the second world war. So there is no room in the world for Nazis. Today we bow our heads before the bright memory of all those who lost their lives in the Great Patriotic War, before the memory of sons, daughters, fathers and mothers, grandfathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, dear friends.
We bow our heads to the memory of the martyrs of Odessa, who burnt in the Trade Union house in May 2014, to the memory of the old men, women and children of the Donbas, the peaceful civilans who died from the merciless fire, the barbarian strikes of the neo-Nazis. We bow our heads before our comrades of war who died the deaths of the brave in the fight for Russia.
[A minute’s silence.]
Comrades, the loss of each soldier and officer is a tragedy for us.
[Putin then announces support for families who have lost soldiers in battle and pledges support to all those injured in war. Thanks medics for all they do in the field of battle.]
Those who crushed Nazism during the Great Patriotic War have given us the example of bravery for all times. And we will always measure ourselves against them. Glory to our heroic armed forces. For Russia! For victory! Hura!