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Russia: Putin prepares Victory Day with new attack on Ukraine

People carry portraits of their relatives - soldiers of World War II - as they take part in the march of the Immortal Regiment in the far eastern city of Vladivostok May 9, 2022. - Russia celebrates the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. (Photo by Pavel KOROLYOV/AFP) (Photo by PAVEL KOROLYOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Large military parades will be held in Moscow today, overseen by President Putin (Image: Pavel Korolyov/ AFP)

Vladimir Putin is expected to use Victory Day in Russia to rally support for the invasion of Ukraine and call the war a success.

The Russian President will lead celebrations in Moscow’s Red Square, using the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany to reframe the conflict.

So far, the Kremlin has only described the fighting as “a special military operation,” but some Western officials believe Putin could use today to officially declare war.

The declaration would allow the President to announce a full mobilization of the population to increase troop levels for an offensive.

While the invasion of Ukraine means fewer Russian tanks and other military equipment will be available for official parades in Red Square, patriotic fervor is expected to be as strong as ever.

This year’s flyby over St. Basil’s Cathedral will include supersonic fighters and strategic bombers.

It is also expected to include the Il-80 “doomsday” command plane, which would carry Russia’s top officials in the event of nuclear war.

The demonstrations of patriotism will come after Russian forces appear to have stepped up their attack on Ukraine, including by bombing a school used as a shelter for civilians.

Emergency crews tend to a fire near burning rubble after a school building was hit as a result of shelling, in Bilohorivka village, Luhansk, Ukraine, May 8, 2022. State Emergency Services/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY PROVIDER PROVIDED. NO RESALE. NO ARCHIVE?

Authorities said around 90 people were sheltering in the basement of a school in Bilohorivka when it was bombed (Image: Reuters)

More than 60 people were killed yesterday after a Russian bomb leveled a school building in eastern Ukraine.

Authorities said about 90 people were sheltering in the basement of the building in the village of Bilohorivka when it was hit.

Rescuers found two bodies and rescued 30 people, but “most likely all 60 people who remained under the rubble are now dead,” Luhansk province governor Serhiy Haidai wrote in the Telegram messaging app.

Russian shelling also killed two boys, ages 11 and 14, in the nearby town of Pryvillia, Haidai said.

Luhansk is part of the Donbass, the industrial heartland to the east that Russian forces are working to conquer.

People carry portraits of their relatives - soldiers of World War II - as they take part in the march of the Immortal Regiment in the far eastern city of Vladivostok May 9, 2022. - Russia celebrates the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. (Photo by Pavel KOROLYOV/AFP) (Photo by PAVEL KOROLYOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Many fear that Putin will use Victory Day to declare war on Ukraine (Image: AFP)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and others had warned in recent days that Russian attacks would only get worse in the run-up to Victory Day, and some cities imposed curfews or warned people not to gather in public.

Russian forces have also stepped up their assault on the southern port city of Mariupol, which has been heavily bombed since the war began.

Ukrainian militants at the Azovstal Steel Plant have refused deadlines set by the Russians for laying down their arms, despite continued attacks by fighter jets, artillery and tanks.

The deputy commander of the Azov regiment hiding at the factory has asked the international community to help evacuate wounded soldiers.

A view shows an explosion at a plant of Azovstal Iron and Steel Works during the Ukraine-Russia conflict in the southern port city of Mariupol, Ukraine May 8, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

The last of the civilians taking shelter with militants at the Azovstal Steel Plant were evacuated on Saturday (Image: Reuters)

“We will keep fighting as long as we live to repel the Russian occupiers,” Captain Sviatoslav Palamar told an online press conference.

The last of the civilians taking shelter with fighters at the factory were evacuated on Saturday.

They arrived in Zaporizhzhia, the first major Ukrainian city across the front lines, on Sunday night, and spoke of constant shelling, dwindling food, pervasive mold – and the use of hand sanitizer to fuel cooking.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/05/09/russia-putin-prepares-to-mark-victory-day-with-new-assault-on-ukraine-16608407/ Russia: Putin prepares Victory Day with new attack on Ukraine

Justin Scacco

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