Russia not invited to D-Day 80th anniversary, diplomats say

By Thomson Reuters May 30, 2024 | 10:53 AM

PARIS (Reuters) – Russia will not be invited to events marking the 80th anniversary of the Second World War’s D-Day landings next week given the war in Ukraine and unease among some allies about Moscow’s presence, two diplomatic sources said on Thursday.

Organisers had said in April that President Vladimir Putin would not be invited to the events in France, but that some Russian representatives would be welcome in recognition of the country’s war-time sacrifice.

But the sources said no Russian officials at all will now be invited to the commemorations that will be attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and U.S. President Joe Biden.

“When there’s a person, there’s a problem. When there’s no person, there’s no problem,” said one of the diplomatic sources quoting Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

Earlier this month, three other EU diplomats told Reuters that a number of states from the bloc had said they would be uneasy if Russia attended more than two years after Putin sent his troops into Ukraine.

More than 150,000 allied troops launched the air, sea and land D-Day landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944, an operation that ultimately led to the liberation of western Europe from Nazi Germany.

The Soviet Union lost more than 25 million lives in what it calls the Great Patriotic War, and Moscow under Putin has taken to marking victory in the war with a massive annual military parade on Red Square.

Russians officials have attended D-Day ceremonies in the past. During the 70th anniversary events in 2014, Putin along with the then leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine set up the so-called Normandy format – a contact group aimed at resolving the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, at that point focused in the Donbass and Crimea regions.

(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Andrew Heavens)