Putin, at Red Square military parade, calls for victory in Ukraine

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday vowed Russia's military would be victorious in Ukraine and blamed Western countries for the conflict, comparing the fighting to World War II during a military parade on Red Square.

But his defiant address was overshadowed by scathing comments by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the pro-Kremlin Wagner mercenary group, who accused Russia's military of repeated failures in Ukraine.

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen meanwhile arrived in Kiev to mark the Europe Day celebration of peace and unity, a symbolic retort to Moscow's Victory Day military parade.

During his brief address, Putin also told the columns of Russian military personnel in ceremonial uniform in central Moscow that the country's future rests on Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine.

"Today civilisation is again at a decisive turning point," Putin said standing shoulder to shoulder with elderly veterans and soldiers from Russia's Ukraine campaign.

"A war has been unleashed against our motherland," he said, adding that "the future of our statehood and our people depend on you."

"For Russia, for our armed forces, for victory! Hurrah!"

Yet the celebrations to mark the anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany 78 years ago have been overshadowed by the military's slow gains and heavy losses in Ukraine.

In remarks released at the same time as Putin's speech, the head of the Wagner outfit accused some Russian forces of abandoning their positions near Bakhmut, the epicentre of the fighting in Ukraine.

"They all fled, exposing the front," Prigozhin said, repeating a vow that his men would leave Bakhmut by May 9 if the Russian military does not supply more ammunition.

Wagner has been leading Russia...

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