Ukraine fights to hold eastern bastions as Russia prepares Victory Day parade

SEVERODONETSK, Ukraine: Ukrainian forces on Sunday (May 8) were determined to defend their last bastion in the ruined port city of Mariupol, desperate to deny Russia a symbolic victory on the eve of Moscow’s Victory Day celebrations.

Shelling and rocket attacks have intensified in the run-up to the World War II commemoration, and rescuers are chasing 60 Ukrainian civilians feared to have died in the bombing of a village school.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy marked the anniversary of the end of the World War by comparing Ukraine’s struggle for national survival to the region’s war of resistance against the former Nazi occupiers.

“Decades after World War II, darkness has returned to Ukraine and it has become black and white again,” Zelenskyy said in a monochrome social media video shot against the backdrop of a bombed-out apartment building.

“Evil has returned, in a different uniform, under different slogans, but with the same goal,” he warned, trying to reverse the “anti-Nazi” rhetoric of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Russia, meanwhile, geared up for a Victory Day parade intended to associate the invasion of its neighbor with the national pride felt over Germany’s defeat by the Soviet Union.

Zelenskyy was also set to meet with G7 leaders via video conference to discuss the crisis, and European diplomats hammered away at the details of their latest sanctions package against Moscow.

On the ground, the main battles were fought in eastern Ukraine.

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