South African President Jacob Zuma has hit back at the West’s boycott of the Victory Day celebrations in Moscow, saying Saturday’s events “defines how the globe stands today”.
The annual Victory Day military parade through Red Square in Moscow marks the surrender of Nazi Germany and the Red Army’s key role in the defeat.
While Western leaders stayed away from the event, BRICS leaders Chinese President Xi Jinping and his South African and Indian counterparts Jacob Zuma and Pranab Mukherjee joined Putin at the parade and later while laying a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Soldier.
“When it comes to the commemoration today, it has been an overwhelmingly good day and a big day for the country, but I think for many of us. I think it defines how the globe stands today to some degree and I think it is very clear, and to have so many good friends come together,” Zuma told Putin later on Saturday.
“I think this has been one of the days that defined the friends and relationships and everything. I think today it was clearer than any other day,” Zuma noted. Other Presidents that attended the 70th anniversary of the end of the war included Abdel Fatah al-Sisi of Egypt, Raúl Castro of Cuba, Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
During Saturday’s meeting, Zuma and Putin also discussed the BRICS bloc and the upcoming leaders summit in Russia.
“We are developing our relations within the framework of international organisations, including BRICS. We need to do a lot to make sure that this organisation becomes an effective mechanism for developing our economies. And we have everything we need for this,” Putin told Zuma after the Victory Day parade on Saturday.
“Relations between Russia and South Africa are of a special nature: this is our leading partner on the African continent,” added Putin.
Putin will host the other four BRICS leaders during the 7th BRICS Summit from July 8-9 in the Russian city of Ufa.
In his Victory Day speech, Putin said “in the 1930s, the enlightened Europe failed to see the deadly threat in the Nazi ideology”.
“The Soviet Union bore the brunt of the enemy’s attacks. it is no surprise that it was the Red Army that, by taking Berlin in a crushing attack, hit the final blow to Hitler’s Germany finishing the war. They liberated European nations from the Nazis,” Putin told the gathering at Red Square.
Putin also criticized what he called, “attempts to establish a unipolar world” in recent decades.
“In the last decades, the basic principles of international cooperation have come to be increasingly ignored. We saw attempts to establish a unipolar world. We see the strong-arm block thinking gaining momentum,” he added.
The BRICS Post