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May 09, 2014

Moscow Marks Victory Day Amid Ukraine Crisis

by VOA News

Thousands of Russian troops marched on Red Square in the annual Victory Day parade in a display of the nation's massive military arsenal amid escalating tensions over Ukraine.
 
Putin watched from the stands as 11,000 Russian troops took part in Friday's parade marking Russia's victory in World War II.
 
The pomp in Moscow comes as Russia ordered energy-dependent Ukraine to pay in advance for all future natural gas deliveries.
 
The Russian Energy Ministry said Thursday Ukraine missed a Wednesday deadline to pay down a $3.5 billion energy debt. As the cash-poor Kyiv government struggles to maintain economic and political stability, Moscow now says all gas sent from June 1 will require cash in advance.
 
It remained unclear late Thursday what impact the prepayment edict will have on the European Union. Russia supplies about 30 percent of Western Europe's gas needs, with about half of those supplies passing through Ukraine.
 
Ukraine has so far refused to pay down its energy debt to protest Moscow's recent gas price increase that nearly doubles what Ukraine's energy monopoly Naftogaz pays its neighbor.
 
The Russian president last month warned the European Union that it would require gas prepayments from Ukraine unless Europe helped cover the Ukrainian debt. Since then, the International Monetary Fund has approved a loan package to Kyiv that includes an initial payment of more than $2 billion.

Victory Day in Kyiv

Ukraine's political and religious leaders paid their respects to World War II heroes on Victory Day in Kyiv by laying flowers at the eternal flame in the city's Heroes' Park.
 
It was a low-key ceremony; authorities wanted to avoid any clashes between pro-Russians and Ukrainians supporting Kiev.
 
The ceremonies planned for Victory Day in Kyiv were in stark contrast to the flamboyant parade in Moscow, where Putin praised the Soviet role in defeating fascism in the second world war.
 
The appeal not to forget the people who defeated fascism had a poignant ring because Moscow has warned of the dangers posed by the new leaders it portrays as neo-fascists in Ukraine, and urged Europe to prevent the rise of the far-right.
 
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk gave an impromptu comment in English when asked about Russia, as his troops carry out daily operations in eastern Ukraine to dislodge pro-Moscow separatists preparing for a referendum on Sunday to split away from Kyiv.
 
“Those who are terrorists, those who do harm, we will bring them to justice but we started to launch a nationwide dialog two weeks ago and we believe the country will be united,” Yatsenyuk said.