No matter what others might say amid reflections on the end of World War II, there have been no references to Soviet “occupation” of the Baltic states from Vladimir Putin.The Russian president has a very different interpretation of events 60 years ago to that of his US counterpart. He laid a wreath in memory of Russia’s war dead, and opened two monuments at a park on the outskirts of Moscow on Saturday.Russia regards itself as the liberator, not the oppressor of eastern Europe.
The Soviet Union suffered huge losses in its battle against Nazi Germany, with nearly 27 million dead. Putin says Russians should be proud. “Not only did our people defend their own homeland, they also liberated 11 European states, on a battlefield that stretched from the Barents sea to the Caucusus,” said Putin. “The aggressor’s war machine was crushed.” Analysts say his rhetoric taps into a rising spirit of patriotism in Russia as the 60th anniversary celebrations approach. The centre of Moscow is being shut down for the event. Some 28,000 specially-trained officers have been brought in alongside the city’s police force amid fears that Chechen rebels will launch a terrorist attack.