Putin says troops defending ‘Motherland’

  • President Vladimir Putin tells a WWII Victory Day Parade in Moscow’s Red Square that Russian troops in eastern Ukraine are fighting for “the Motherland” as the Kremlin presses on with its offensive in the Donbas.
  • Putin also says Moscow’s invasion was a preemptive move to ward off aggression from the West.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy vows his country will win the war and accuses Russia of staging a “bloody re-enactment of Nazism”.

    Brussels to give ‘opinion’ on Ukraine EU membership bid in June

    The president of the European Union’s executive arm says it will respond next month to Ukraine’s bid to join the bloc, a key step before the issue is taken up by member states.

    “The EU Commission will aim to deliver its opinion in June,” Ursula von der Leyen tweeted.

    In April, von der Leyen visited Kyiv to show solidarity with Ukraine and agreed that Brussels would consider Ukraine’s longstanding ambition to join.

    Formally adopting the country as a candidate would be a decision for the 27 EU member states acting on expert advice from the bloc’s commission, which would oversee the complex and potentially lengthy accession process.

    Russian negotiator says talks with Ukraine continue

    Moscow’s chief negotiator in talks with Kyiv over ending the war says that discussions have not stopped and are continuing remotely, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

    Vladimir Medinsky said Russia required “more specifics … in order to meet in person”, Interfax reported. The two sides have not held face-to-face peace talks since March 29, though they have met by video link.

    Moscow has accused Kyiv of stalling the talks and using reports of atrocities committed by Russian troops in Ukraine to undermine negotiations.

    Zelenskyy said last month that there was a high risk that the discussions would end, blaming public anger with what he said were the alleged Russian atrocities.

    The slogans appeared just before Monday’s military parade on Moscow’s Red Square. Russia’s Interfax news agency said the slogans appeared on cable television too after they were hacked.

    A Russian news website also showed anti-war material that was deeply critical of Putin. It was not immediately clear how the negative articles, which were swiftly removed, had appeared.

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