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Putin vows victory in Ukraine as he marks WWII Stalingrad triumph

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President Vladimir Putin warned the U.S. and its allies they can’t defeat Russia, rallying domestic support for his invasion of Ukraine in a speech marking a key victory in World War II.

“Those who expect to win a victory against Russia on the battlefield don’t understand that modern-day war with Russia will turn out totally differently for them,” he said at a concert on Thursday in Volgograd, which had been temporarily renamed Stalingrad for the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi forces there. “We aren’t sending tanks to their borders but we have the means to fight back and they won’t be limited to armor. Everyone should understand this.”

As Putin’s invasion drags toward its second year, the Kremlin, seeking to shore up public support for the widening war effort, has increasingly sought to portray it as a fight against attempts by the U.S. and its allies to subdue Russia. Ukraine’s supporters have been careful to avoid a direct conflict with Moscow’s forces, though they are steadily stepping up supplies of weapons. Kyiv has said repeatedly its aim is to oust Russian troops from Ukrainian territory.

The battle of Stalingrad, a decisive moment in what in Russia is known as the “Great Patriotic War,” remains a powerful national symbol. The fighting lasted for more than six months, costing nearly 2 million lives on both sides, and ended in the surrender of German forces.


“German tanks are threatening us again, Leopards, with crosses on board,” Putin said, referring to plans by European countries to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Last year, Ukrainian forces succeeded in wresting back control of part of the territory seized by Russia since last February’s invasion, including the southern city of Kherson. Russia, whose first win in six months was the costly capture of a small town, is now incurring more casualties in a bid to seize the nearby city of Bakhmut.

Russia illegally annexed four Ukrainian regions in September, despite only controlling them partly, and almost immediately began losing ground.

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