Russia 'mirroring' WW2 fascism in Ukraine invasion

Published: 09 May 2022

Online Desk

Russia is "mirroring the fascism and tyranny of 70 years ago" in its invasion of Ukraine, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said.

Speaking as Russia staged a military parade marking its defeat of Nazi Germany in World War Two, he accused Russian generals of hijacking their "forebears' proud history".

Mr Wallace said the generals must face war crimes trials.

The defence secretary said there "can be no victory day, only dishonour".

He accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of "ripping up both Russia's past and its future".

Mr Putin has been attending Russia's annual 9 May Victory Day parade in Moscow as he attempts to rally public support for the war in Ukraine.

The event commemorates the anniversary of the Soviet victory over the Nazis in 1945. But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of forgetting everything that was important to the victors.

In a speech at the National Army Museum, Mr Wallace said: "Putin, his inner circle and generals are now mirroring the fascism and tyranny of 70 years ago, repeating the errors of last century's totalitarian regimes."

He continued: "So let's call out the absurdity of Russian generals - resplendent in their manicured parade uniforms and weighed down by their many medals - for being utterly complicit in Putin's hijacking of their forebears' proud history of defending against a ruthless invasion; of repelling fascism; of sacrificing themselves for a higher purpose.

"Instead now, they are the ones inflicting needless suffering in the service of lowly gangsterism."

He said the Russian army's actions "dishonour" the country's World War Two fighters and called for Russian generals to face courts martial over their actions during Russia's "illegal invasion".

Mr Wallace pointed to attacks on civilians, the targeting of women and children and instances of sexual violence. He said all professional soldiers "should be appalled" at the Russian army's behaviour.

Russia began its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, describing it as a "special military operation" which aimed to "demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine".

Mr Putin has said he wants to protect people after what he described as eight years of bullying and genocide from Ukraine's government. The claims are completely unfounded but part of a narrative repeated by Russia for years.

Speaking during the Moscow parade, Mr Putin claimed the West had been "preparing for the invasion of our land, including Crimea".

But Mr Wallace denied the West intended to invade, saying the Russian president had been making "fairy-tale claims for months". He said while Mr Putin claimed to be "surrounded", countries in the Nato military alliance accounted for only 6% of Russia's land border.

The defence secretary said Mr Putin "is believing what he wants to believe", adding: "Let me put on the record categorically: Nato, Britain, Eastern Europe is not planning to invade Russia and never has done."

Meanwhile, the UK has announced a fresh package of sanctions on Russia and Belarus, targeting £1.7bn of trade.

The Department for International Trade said new import tariffs would apply to goods including platinum and palladium - used to make parts for mobile phones and computers.

Export bans will also target chemicals, plastics, rubber and machinery. It takes the value of products subject to UK sanctions to more than £4bn.