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France welcomes Russia to D-Day anniversary

President Vladimir Putin is not invited, according to the organizers

A Russian delegation can join an international celebration marking 80 years since D-Day in France, but President Vladimir Putin is not welcome, the organizers announced on Tuesday.

The Allied landing in Normandy, which opened a second front against Nazi Germany in Europe, will be commemorated on June 6. Earlier in the day the radio station Europe 1 broke the news of the imminent French decision.

The Liberation Mission organizing committee stressed in a statement that President Putin will not be invited for the ceremony “in view of the circumstances,” referring to the Ukraine conflict.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier told journalists that Moscow had received no official communications on the matter from Paris.

President Putin took part in a ceremony on the 70th anniversary of D-Day in 2014. The event took place months after a Western-backed armed coup in Kiev prompted the then-Ukrainian region of Crimea to break away and seek Russian protection from Ukrainian nationalists. Paris invited the Russian leader despite the diplomatic rift caused by those events. Western media described Putin as “detached and isolated” during the event in Normandy.

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According to Europe 1, France wants Moscow to have lower-level representation at this year’s event, but marking the historic date “would be difficult” if the country was not part of it at all, the outlet suggested.

The Soviet Union sustained the highest number of casualties among the Allied powers during World War II, losing more than 26 million people, most of whom were civilians. Western nations provided crucial supplies for the Soviet war effort but joined the effort on the European continent only after the Red Army had forced Nazi Germany and its allies into retreat.

Earlier in the day, Bloomberg claimed that some French and foreign officials were “apprehensive” about President Emmanuel Macron’s public rhetoric on Russia. The French leader seems to be “oscillating unpredictably between peacemaker and provocateur,” the news agency said.

Last year, Macron said he may invite Putin to Normandy, if circumstances allowed.

 

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