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Mass parachute jump over Normandy kicks off D-Day commemorations - but Putin is not invited

Parachute drop in Carentan-Les-Marais in Normandy, France on Sunday ahead of D-Day 80th anniversary commemorations
Parachute drop in Carentan-Les-Marais in Normandy, France on Sunday ahead of D-Day 80th anniversary commemorations Copyright Jeremias Gonzalez/AP
Copyright Jeremias Gonzalez/AP
By Saskia O'Donoghue with AP
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2024 marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day but officials decided against playing host to the Russian president,


Parachutists jumped from World War II-era planes on Sunday into the skies above Normandy in France where war once raged.

The reason? To kick off a week of ceremonies to commemorate the sacrifices made for the fast-disappearing generation of Allied troops who fought from D-Day beaches 80 years ago during that war.

On 6 June 1944, soldiers from across the United States, the UK, Canada and other Allied nations from Europe and the wider world waded ashore through hails of fire on five beaches.

These former soldiers are now dwindling in numbers, with the youngest in his mid-90s and many others over 100 years old.

The upcoming week’s events, which will include fireworks shows, parachute jumps, solemn commemorations and ceremonies, will be attended by world leaders.

Many see it as a chance to effectively pass the baton of remembrance to the current generations now seeing war again in Europe, in Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, US President Joe Biden and British royals are among the VIPs that France is expecting for these D-Day events.

However, one leader who will not be in attendance is Vladimir Putin.

Organisers confirmed back in April that the Russian president would not be invited to any commemorative events, due to the country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

During a press briefing on Thursday, a representative of the French presidency confirmed Russia's absence, suggesting the mere suggestion was stoking tensions between France and allied nations.

"Russia has not been invited. The conditions for its participation are not there given the war of aggression launched in February 2022, which has only increased these last weeks," they said.

There have also been reports that a number of EU member states had said they would have felt “uneasy” if Putin was allowed to attend.

There will be some Russian representatives allowed access though, in order to recognise the country's war-time sacrifice.

More than 150,000 Allied troops launched the air, sea and land D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944. It eventually led to the liberation of western Europe from Nazi Germany.

The then-Soviet Union lost over 25 million lives in what it calls the ‘Great Patriotic War’.

The Kremlin marks that victory with an annual military parade on Red Square in Moscow.

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