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Red Square parade Putin marks Victory Day with nuclear 'doomsday' plane and claims of planned West invasion

Putin’s “doomsday plane”, designed to protect him in case of nuclear attack, is today making its first appearance in 10 years

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Russian service members march during a rehearsal for a military parade marking the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia May 7, 2022. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

Russian service members march during a rehearsal for a military parade marking the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia May 7, 2022. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

Ukrainian refugees from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol arrive at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people as police guard, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukrainian refugees from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol arrive at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people as police guard, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukrainian refugees from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol are seen in a bus as they arrive at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukrainian refugees from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol are seen in a bus as they arrive at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

A Ukrainian boy from Mariupol reacts after arriving at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

A Ukrainian boy from Mariupol reacts after arriving at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukrainian refugees from Mariupol Ludmila Lobanova, 58, and her grandchildren react after arriving at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukrainian refugees from Mariupol Ludmila Lobanova, 58, and her grandchildren react after arriving at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukrainian refugee Alisa, 4, from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, whose mother was detained by Russian servicemen during the evacuation, is seen as she arrives at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukrainian refugee Alisa, 4, from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, whose mother was detained by Russian servicemen during the evacuation, is seen as she arrives at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

U2 rock band frontman Bono and Ukrainian serviceman, frontman of the Antytila band Taras Topolia sing during a performance for Ukrainian people inside a subway station, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

U2 rock band frontman Bono and Ukrainian serviceman, frontman of the Antytila band Taras Topolia sing during a performance for Ukrainian people inside a subway station, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

U2 rock band frontman Bono sings during a performance for Ukrainian people inside a subway station, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

U2 rock band frontman Bono sings during a performance for Ukrainian people inside a subway station, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

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Russian service members march during a rehearsal for a military parade marking the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia May 7, 2022. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

Russian President Vladimir Putin evoked the memory of Soviet heroism in World War Two on Monday to urge his army towards victory in Ukraine.

Addressing massed ranks of servicemen on Red Square on the 77th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany, Putin condemned what he called external threats to weaken and split Russia, and repeated familiar arguments he had used to justify its invasion - that NATO was creating threats right next to its borders.

He directly addressed soldiers fighting in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine which Russia has pledged to "liberate" from Kyiv.

"Defending the Motherland when its fate is being decided has always been sacred," he said. "Today you are fighting for our people in Donbas, for the security of Russia, our homeland."

 

Putin's 11-minute speech on day 75 of the invasion offered no assessment of progress in the war and gave no indication of how long it might continue.

He has repeatedly likened the war - which he casts as a battle against dangerous "Nazi"-inspired nationalists in Ukraine - to the challenge the Soviet Union faced when Adolf Hitler invaded in 1941.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said it is Russia that is staging a "bloody re-enactment of Nazism" in Ukraine.

Putin’s “doomsday plane”, designed to protect him in case of nuclear attack, is today making its first appearance in 10 years at Moscow’s Victory Day parade.

The Ilyushin Il-80 plane, known as “the flying Kremlin”, will take part in a flypast over Red Square in a clear warning to the West, The Telegraph reports.

The giant aircraft will be accompanied by the TU-96 “Bear” and TU-160 “White Swan”, which are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The doomsday plane has no external windows except in the cockpit and a dome on the roof of the cockpit that supposedly prevents exposure to electromagnetic pulse attacks.

Assault

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Ukrainian refugees from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol arrive at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people as police guard, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukrainian refugees from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol arrive at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people as police guard, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukrainian refugees from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol arrive at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people as police guard, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Meanwhile, Russian forces have pushed forward in their assault on Ukraine, seeking to capture the crucial southern port city of Mariupol as Moscow celebrates its national Victory Day holiday.

Determined to show a success in a war now in its 11th week, Russian troops have targeted the sprawling seaside steel mill of Azovstal where an estimated 2,000 Ukrainian fighters were making what appeared to be their last stand to save Mariupol from falling.

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The mill is the only part of the city not overtaken by the invaders, and its defeat would deprive Ukraine of a vital port and allow Russia to establish a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, which it seized from Ukraine in 2014.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that worsening attacks could be linked to Victory Day, which marks Russia’s greatest triumph, over Nazi Germany in 1945.

Battle

Though fighting continues on multiple fronts, Russia is closest to victory in Mariupol.

Ukrainian fighters in the steel mill have rejected deadlines set by the Russians for laying down their arms even as attacks continued by warplanes, artillery and tanks.

The last of the civilians taking shelter with fighters at the plant were evacuated on Saturday. They arrived on Sunday night in Zaporizhzhia, the first major Ukrainian city beyond the frontlines, and spoke of constant shelling, dwindling food, ubiquitous mould — and using hand sanitizer for cooking fuel.

 

Elsewhere in Ukraine, more than 60 people were feared dead after a Russian bomb flattened a school being used as a shelter in the eastern village of Bilohorivka, Ukrainian officials said.

Authorities said about 90 people were sheltering in the school’s basement when it was attacked on Saturday. Emergency crews found two bodies and rescued 30 people, but “most likely all 60 people who remain under the rubble are now dead”, Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk province, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

Russian shelling also killed two boys, aged 11 and 14, in the nearby town of Pryvillia, Haidai said. Luhansk is part of the Donbas, the industrial heartland in the east that Russia’s forces are working to capture.

On Ukraine’s coast, explosions echoed again across the major Black Sea port of Odesa. The Ukrainian military said Moscow was focusing its main efforts on destroying airfield infrastructure in eastern and southern Ukraine.

In a sign of the dogged resistance that has sustained the fighting into its 11th week, Ukraine’s military struck Russian positions on a Black Sea island that was captured in the war’s first days. A satellite image by Planet Labs showed smoke rising from two sites on the island.

But Moscow’s forces showed no sign of backing down in the south. Satellite photos show Russia has put armoured vehicles and missile systems at a small base in the Crimean Peninsula.

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Ukrainian refugees from Mariupol Ludmila Lobanova, 58, and her grandchildren react after arriving at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukrainian refugees from Mariupol Ludmila Lobanova, 58, and her grandchildren react after arriving at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukrainian refugees from Mariupol Ludmila Lobanova, 58, and her grandchildren react after arriving at a registration and humanitarian aid centre for internally displaced people, amid Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

The most intense combat in recent days has taken place in eastern Ukraine. A Ukrainian counteroffensive in the northeast near Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city, is making “significant progress”, according to the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank.

However, the Ukrainian army withdrew from the embattled eastern city of Popasna, regional authorities said.

Rodion Miroshnik, a representative of the pro-Kremlin, separatist Luhansk People’s Republic, said its forces and Russian troops had captured most of Popasna after two months of fierce fighting.

The Kharkiv regional administration said three people were killed in shelling of the town of Bogodukhiv, about 50 kilometres (30 miles) from Kharkiv.

South of Kharkiv, in Dnipropetrovsk province, the governor said a 12-year-old boy was killed by a cluster munition that he found after a Russian attack. An international treaty bans the use of such explosives, but neither Russia nor Ukraine has signed the agreement.

“This war is treacherous,” the governor, Valentyn Reznichenko, wrote on social media. “It is near, even when it is invisible.”

Support

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U2 rock band frontman Bono and Ukrainian serviceman, frontman of the Antytila band Taras Topolia sing during a performance for Ukrainian people inside a subway station, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

U2 rock band frontman Bono and Ukrainian serviceman, frontman of the Antytila band Taras Topolia sing during a performance for Ukrainian people inside a subway station, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

U2 rock band frontman Bono and Ukrainian serviceman, frontman of the Antytila band Taras Topolia sing during a performance for Ukrainian people inside a subway station, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

As Victory Day neared and the spotlight turned to Mr Putin, Western leaders showed new signs of support for Ukraine.

The Group of Seven industrial democracies pledged to ban or phase out imports of Russian oil.

The US also announced new sanctions against Russia, cutting off Western advertising from Russia’s three biggest TV stations, banning US accounting and consulting firms from providing services, and cutting off Russia’s industrial sector from wood products, industrial engines, boilers and bulldozers.

US first lady Jill Biden met with her Ukrainian counterpart. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised his country’s flag at its embassy in Kyiv. And U2′s Bono, alongside bandmate The Edge, performed in a Kyiv subway station that had been used as a bomb shelter, singing the 1960s song Stand by Me.

Mr Zelensky released a video address marking the day of the Allied victory in Europe 77 years ago, drawing parallels between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the evils of Nazism. The black-and-white footage showed Mr Zelensky standing in front of a ruined apartment block in Borodyanka, a Kyiv suburb.

He said that generations of Ukrainians understood the significance of the words “never again”, a phrase often used as a vow not to allow a repeat of the horrors of the Holocaust.

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