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France retracts Russian invite to major WW2 anniversary – Reuters — RT World News

France retracts Russian invite to major WW2 anniversary – Reuters — RT World News

The prospect of Moscow’s presence at the Normandy commemoration has reportedly drawn concern from Western allies

Russia will not be invited to events marking the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day landings because of the Ukraine conflict, the French presidency said on Thursday, as reported by Reuters.

The Allied landing in Normandy, which opened a second front against Nazi Germany in Europe, will be commemorated on June 6. The Allies used over 5,000 ships and landing craft to bring more than 150,000 troops on to five beaches in Normandy in an operation that ultimately led to the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany.

Prior to France’s announcement on Thursday of the latest decision, two diplomatic sources reportedly told Reuters that the Ukraine conflict and unease among some allies about Moscow’s presence had led Paris to reverse its initial thinking.

The French organizers, Liberation Mission, said last month that a Russian delegation could join the events in France but that President Vladimir Putin would not be invited. However, the potential presence of a Russian delegation at the event had reportedly sparked criticism from UK and US officials, with some saying they were caught off-guard.

Briefing reporters ahead of next Thursday’s anniversary, a French presidency official confirmed Russia’s absence, noting that Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky had been invited.

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

The organizers said last month that Russia would be asked to attend in order “to honor the importance of the commitment and sacrifices of the Soviet peoples, as well as its contribution to the 1945 victory” over Nazi Germany.

Russian officials have attended D-Day ceremonies in the past. During the 70th-anniversary events in 2014, Putin along with the leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine set up the so-called Normandy format with the aim of finding a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine conflict.

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

The Soviet Union lost over 26 million people in World War II, which is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War. Russia celebrates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany on May 9, which is one of the most revered holidays in the country.

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