According to Russian Foreign Affairs Minister, the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un will join 25 other world leaders who are scheduled to celebrate the anniversary of the Allies’ 1945 victory over Hitler’s Germany on May 9. The celebrations will include the annual military parade in the Red Square in Moscow, traditionally followed by the Russian President’s speech. Among the 26 states whose leaders have confirmed their intention to participate in the festivities are China, Cuba, India, Brazil, Mongolia, South Africa, and Vietnam. Most Western leaders have decided against attending this parade because of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
Plans for the ceremony have been reported today by the Russian newspaper Izvestia. According to this source, many leaders in the world have received invitations, and over 30 have already confirmed. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused to make official comments about the coming event, while promising to come back on the topic early next month. Representatives from countries in Asia and the Middle East, along with member state of the CIS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and BRICS, were more interested in attending than representatives of EU states, according to Izvestia.
Another source said that leaders from countries as diverse as Tajikistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Vietnam, North Korea, the Netherlands, Greece, Egypt, and Israel are expected to come to Moscow, but the confirmation received from the Chinese, the Vietnamese, and the North Korean leaders were only tentative. Some rumors suggest that there will also be a French delegation, but it is not sure whether it will include the President François Hollande. Izvestia announced that several members of the Ukrainian parliament and especially representatives of the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk will attend the May 9 festivities.
Polish officials, on the other hand, have refused the Russian president’s invitation. Leaders of the Baltic countries have announced that they will not come. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also declined the invitation to attend the parade, but has accepted to lay a wreath of flowers on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the following day, May 10, because she considers it “important to mark the joint remembrance of the end of the Second World War and the liberation from Nazism” – as her spokesman Steffen Seibert declared for Deutsche Welle.
If Kim Jong Un keeps his promise of participating in the celebrations, this would be his first visit abroad since he came into office in 2012 (though not the first visit in his life, because he attended school in Switzerland).
image source: The Guardian