Putin shrugs off D-Day anniversary snub


Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with foreign investors on the sidelines of the St Petersburg International Economic ForumImage copyright

Image caption

Mr Putin joined the last major D-Day commemoration in 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said it is “not a problem” that he was not invited to join other world leaders marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in northern France.

Mr Putin, who was invited to the 70th anniversary event in 2014, said he had “enough business” of his own in Russia.

The comments came after his government claimed D-Day was “not a game-changer”.

Russia often accuses the West of failing to properly acknowledge the Soviet Union’s role in World War Two.

World leaders, including US President Donald Trump, attended Thursday’s memorial, where they paid tribute to the Allied troops who attacked German forces on the coast of northern France on 6 June, 1944 in history’s largest sea and air invasion.

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Media captionDonald Trump praised troops at a service in the US war cemetery at Omaha Beach

Mr Putin joined the last major commemoration in 2014, but was not invited this year. Speaking at an economic forum in St Petersburg, he said that the lack of an invitation was not an issue.

“We also don’t invite everyone to every event. Why should I be invited everywhere? I have enough business of my own here,” he said.

His remarks came a day after Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs insisted that the significance of D-Day in the outcome of the war should not be overplayed.

Why does Russia see D-Day differently to the West?

Analysis by Steve Rosenberg, BBC News, Moscow

When countries argue about the present, they often disagree about the past, too. Take D-Day – British Prime Minister Theresa May called it the day that “determined the fate of generations to come”. But Russia’s Foreign Ministry sees things rather differently.

“The Normandy landings did not have a decisive impact on the outcome of World War Two,” said its spokesperson Maria Zakharova this week. “It was inevitable after the Red Army victories at Stalingrad and Kursk.”

Russia’s most popular newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda asked: “Why does the West want everyone to think that their front wasn’t just the second front, but the main one?”. It added that millions of Soviet soldiers had been killed while the USSR was waiting for the Allies to open the second front.

Perhaps if President Putin had been invited to join the D-Day commemorations in Normandy, Russia’s viewpoint might be more positive.

One Russian TV presenter declared: “There wouldn’t even have been a Normandy landing if it hadn’t been for the Soviet soldiers who’d died from 1941 onwards in the fight against fascism.”

Moscow had been fighting German forces in the east for almost three years by the time of the D-Day operations that ultimately led to the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany.

The Soviet Union lost more than 25 million lives in what was called the Great Patriotic War – more than any other nation. Russia holds a massive military parade every year to commemorate the anniversary of the end of World War Two and remember the role of Soviet troops.

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