Russia-Ukraine War News: Live Updates

credit…Cyril Braga/Reuters

President Vladimir V. Putin will travel Thursday to the Russian city formerly known as Stalingrad to mark the Soviet defeat of the Nazis in a decisive World War II battle, an anniversary the Kremlin is sure to use to try to rally internal support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Kremlin said Mr Putin would deliver a speech at a “celebratory concert” planned for Thursday in the city now known as Volgograd. Mr Putin will also hold an on-camera meeting with members of patriotic and youth groups, the Kremlin said, signaling the Russian president is likely to make some of his most expansive public remarks since December.

Stalingrad — the turning point in what Russians call the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet Union’s fight against the Nazis in World War II — has a totemic meaning for Russians as a symbol of military suffering, sacrifice and heroism. In 1943, the Soviets turned back the German invasion there after a 200-day battle that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians.

For Mr Putin, symbolism is a central trope in his messages to Russians to sway them to support his war in Ukraine, with Kremlin propaganda falsely portraying Ukrainians as modern-day Nazis and distorting reality to portray the Russian invasion as a defensive war.

On Wednesday, for example, the Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry S. Peskov, told reporters that Mr. Putin would hold a meeting to discuss the consequences of the “bombing by Nazi formations from Ukraine” in Russia’s border regions. And at a meeting with World War II veterans last month, Mr. Putin repeated his description of Ukraine’s current government as continuing the legacy of the Second World War Nazis.

“The neo-Nazis who have established themselves and are running the show in Ukraine,” Mr. Putin said at the January meeting, must be punished for committing “crimes against civilians.”

“It is essential to record everything they are doing now, especially against civilians,” he said, falsely drawing a parallel with Nazi crimes in World War II.

The Kremlin said Mr Putin’s speech on Thursday would be at a concert commemorating the end of the Battle of Stalingrad after he laid a wreath at a memorial museum. He last spoke at a major public event in September on Red Square in Moscow, celebrating the illegal annexation of Russia from four Ukrainian regions.

Ukraine has since dealt Moscow further military setbacks, forcing the Russians to withdraw in November from the city of Kherson. Mr Putin also faces pressure from heavy casualties in fierce fighting around the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut, as well as a Western pledge to provide Ukraine with battle tanks.

But Mr Putin looks likely to use his remarks on Thursday to insist that Russia will stay the course despite its tribulations. Asked on Wednesday about the implications of new Western arms supplies to Ukraine, Mr Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said they would lead to “an increase in the level of escalation”.

“This will require additional efforts from us,” Mr. Peskov said. Using the Kremlin’s euphemistic term for the incursion, he continued: “But, again, it’s not going to change the course of events. The special military operation will continue.

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