Vladimir Putin to go stag to World War II celebration as no foreign leader coming

April 29, 2019 GMT

Russia said Monday that none of President Vladimir Putin’s peers will be on hand for this year’s Victory Day celebration marking the Soviet Union’s part in the victory over Nazi Germany.

Traditionally one of the biggest patriotic events on the Kremlin’s calendar, the lack of attendees for this year’s commemoration reflects in part Russia’s strained relations with its neighbors over policies in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, told the RIA Novosti news outlet that no foreign leaders were expected because none had been formally invited. Victory Day celebrations are traditionally marked by a massive parade with a heavy military component through the heart of Red Square.

President Obama skipped the 70th-anniversary celebration in 2015, but leaders from more than a dozen countries, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were on hand that year.

The Moscow Times said the number of invitees has steadily dwindled in ensuing years. Last year, just two foreign government leaders Serbian President Alexander Vucic and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to attend.