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Russia to Commemorate World War II Victory Amid Ukraine Invasion

Russian MiG-29SMT jet fighters forming the symbol "Z" in support of Russian military action in Ukraine, fly over Red Square during the rehearsal of the Victory Day military parade in central Moscow on May 7, 2022.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to oversee a parade Monday in Moscow and give a speech that will be closely watched given his military’s ongoing invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

Monday’s events commemorate the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Putin has characterized the Ukrainian invasion as an operation to “denazify” the country, while Ukraine and its Western allies say Putin launched an unjustified and unprovoked war.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told CNN’s “State of the Union” show Sunday that Russia has “nothing to celebrate” with its invasion of Ukraine and has “only succeeded in isolating itself” in the world community.

As Russian forces focused attacks on eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, a Russian bomb leveled a school in Luhansk province.

“As a result of a Russian strike on Bilohorivka in the Luhansk region, about 60 people were killed, civilians, who simply hid at the school, sheltering from shelling,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a late Sunday video address.

Luhansk Governor Serhiy Haidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app that 30 people were rescued from the site.

Britain’s defense ministry said Monday that Russia has likely heavily depleted its stockpile of precision-guided munitions, forcing it to rely on older munitions that are less reliable and less accurate.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has revealed shortcomings in its ability to conduct precision strikes at scale,” the ministry said. “Russia has subjected Ukraine's towns and cities to intense and indiscriminate bombardments with little or no regard for civilian casualties.”

Ukraine aid

In an interview with the Financial Times, European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said EU capitals should consider seizing frozen Russian foreign exchange reserves in order to assist in efforts to rebuild Ukraine post-war.

“This is one of the most important political questions on the table: who is going to pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine?” Borrell told the Financial Times, adding that discussion over the money for “war compensations” should start and that it should come from Russia.

Borrell drew comparison to the U.S. seizure of Afghan assets following the Taliban’s takeover last year.

“We have the money in our pockets, and someone has to explain to me why it is good for the Afghan money and not good for the Russian money,” Borrell said.

Zelenskyy met virtually Sunday with U.S. President Joe Biden and other Group of Seven leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Italy, Japan and Germany, who together head some of the world’s largest economies. The grouping has pledged billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine.

Later, the White House said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “has failed in his initial military objective to dominate Ukraine — but he has succeeded in making Russia a global pariah.”

“Today, the United States, the European Union and G-7 committed to ratchet up these costs” by imposing further sanctions targeting Russian state-controlled media, cutting off Russian oil exports to Europe and further curbing Russian trade to other countries.

Surprise visits

A day after crossing into Ukraine to meet with Ukrainian first lady OIena Zelenska and visit with schoolchildren, U.S. first lady Jill Biden was due to meet Monday with Slovakian President Zuzana Caputova in Bratislava.

The White House said Biden would express gratitude for Slovakia’s support of Ukrainian refugees. The United Nations says more than 5.8 million Ukrainians have fled the country since the Russian invasion began in late February, with nearly 400,000 going to Slovakia.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau traveled Sunday to Kyiv to meet with Zelenskyy and then reopened the Canadian embassy in the embattled capital.

Top U.S. diplomats, including acting Ambassador Kristina Kvien, also returned to Kyiv as the United States prepares to reopen its embassy there soon.

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Press and Reuters.