On Tuesday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Kremlin invited 68 world leaders to join Moscow’s celebration. According to him, the president of 26 countries including China, Cuba, North Korea, and Vietnam confirmed their attendance on May 9.
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This would be the first foreign trip of Kim Jong-un since he became President of North Korea. The event would also provide an opportunity for him to meet Xi Jinping given North Korea’s long-running standoff with China regarding its nuclear ambitions.
The political relationship between China and North Korea was strained after Pyongyang conducted its third nuclear test on February 2013.
Earlier this month, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated said, “The China-North Korea relationship has a strong foundation. It should not and will not be affected by temporary events. As to when our leaders will meet, we will have to see when it is convenient for both parties.”
It appears that the convenient time for Xi Jin Ping and Kim Jong-un is the celebration in Moscow.
A parade at the Red Square overseen by Russian President Vladimir Putin is the highlight of the celebration. This year, Moscow expanded the celebration by adding 15,000 troops, cadets and Cossacks, according to Lavrov. He added that Russia also invited 16 foreign military units to participate in the parade, and nine already confirmed to join.
Russia is expecting 78,500 people across the country to participate in the Victory Day parade. The Russian government would display nearly 2,000 items of military equipment during the event.
North Korea marks 2015 as “Year of Friendship” with Russia
North Korea designated 2015 as its “Year of Friendship” with Russia. Both countries aim to boost economic and political ties as well as to increase cultural exchanges as they celebrate 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II.
This year also marks the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberty from decades of Japan’s colonial power. North Korea’s state-run news agency KCNA previously reported that Kim Jong-un will attend the event in Moscon on May 9.
Last month, Russia announced its plan to conduct joint military exercises with North Korea, Brazil, Cuba and Vietnam. The countries also entered into preliminary negotiations to conduct a series of joint naval and air force exercises as well as joint drills of ground and air assault troops.
Russia also established a Business Council Cooperation with North Korea with a target of $1 billion in trade between the two countries by 2020.
A number of European leaders will also attend Russia’s celebration
Lavrov also stated that the heads of UNESCO and the Council of Europe also expressed their intention to attend the celebration. A number of leaders from European region including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway and Slovakia confirmed their attendance.
“As for the participation of European leaders, this is being influenced by current US actions and aggressive forces inside the EU.”
According to reports, Merkel decided not to attend Russia’s victory parade, but she is planning to visit Moscow the following day in a separate ceremony with Putin.
“The decision by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to come to Moscow will particularly help to undermine the anti-Russian campaign. In which particular way, she will participate [in celebrations] is still to be determined,” said Lavrov.
Other Western leaders declined Russia’s invitation due to its role in the conflict in Ukraine.
Russia’s statement on the implementation of Minsk Agreements
Yesterday, the Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement regarding the implementations of the Minks Agreements. According to the Ministry, the proposals submitted by Ukraine President Petr Poroshenko to identify several districts in the Donentsk and Lugansk regions to be granted self-government status raises serious concerns and questions.
The proposals of President Poroshenko violate the commitment stipulated in the Minsk Agreements, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. Itsaid, “These actions by the Kiev authorities are yet another evidence of its policy of undermining the Minsk process… The Kiev authorities should meticulously abide by their commitments and start a real political dialogue with the representatives of Donbass on all aspects of Ukrainian crisis settlement.”
Furthermore, the Ministry said, “We are calling on the guarantors of these Agreements – the leaders of Germany and France – to urge their strict implementation, including honest compliance with the content and sequence of actions coordinated in the February 12 documents.”