Russia will be celebrating the World War II Victory Day on Saturday, May 9th, which marks 70th anniversary of the defeat of Axis powers. In an apparent show of strength, the country is set to hold a large military parade, involving nearly 80,000 troops and 2,000 pieces of military hardware. Russia had officially sent invitations to 68 countries and international organizations, but not all of them are going to attend the May 9 parade. So, who all are attending?
UN chief to participate in Russia’s celebrations
In total, 30 heads of the state and leaders of international organizations have confirmed their participation. To begin with, United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon has confirmed that he would attend the Victory Day parade in Moscow. Along with him will be UNESCO chief Irina Bokov. As expected, Ukraine has criticized Ban Ki-Moon’s planned attendance in Russia.
Leaders of all the BRICS states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) will attend the May 9 procession. Though many European countries have decided to stay away from the Russian parade, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos has said that he would visit Moscow on Victory Day. The former Soviet states Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Armenia will all send their heads of state.
China sends two warships
Mongolian and Vietnamese heads of state will also participate in celebrations. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will be flying to Moscow to attend the ceremony. Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba said that the leader will be attending the parade in his capacity as the African Union chair. Unsurprisingly, Cuba has also confirmed its attendance.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has accepted Russia’s invitation. The Chinese navy has also sent two warships to participate in the Victory Day parade. Later this month, these warships will participate in the first-ever China-Russia naval exercises in the Mediterranean Sea. Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has left for Russia on a five-day state visit to participate in the Victory Day celebrations. An Indian military contingent will also be part of the Victory Day parade. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius will represent his country in Moscow.
Who’s not attending?
Many European leaders have decided to stay away from the commemorations to protest Russia’s adventures in Ukraine. Just a few days ago, North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un surprisingly cancelled his trip to Moscow. German chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Moscow, but not on May 9. She will fly to Moscow a day later to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. Russian ally Belarus has also decided to stay away.