Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a concert marking the anniversary of Crimea's annexation by Russia at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow in March. Putin on Sunday blasted “Nazi filth” in Ukraine in remarks he made to commemorate Victory Day, the 77th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. File Photo by Sergei Guneyev/EPA-EFE
May 8 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin blasted "Nazi filth" in Ukraine in remarks he made to commemorate Victory Day, the 77th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Putin's remarks also noted that he sent congratulatory messages to the Russian appointed heads of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine, which together make up the Donbas region, for "fighting shoulder to shoulder for the liberation of their native land."
In the last month, Russia has refocused its fighting in the Donbas region, which has largely been held by Russian-backed separatists since Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014. Putin had recognized Donetsk and Luhansk as independent republics in the days before the invasion.
"Today, the common duty is to prevent the revival of Nazism, which brought so much suffering to people from different countries," Putin said in the messages, according to a press release from the Kremlin.
"It is necessary to preserve and pass on to posterity the truth about the events of the war years, common spiritual values and traditions of fraternal friendship."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday met with Bärbel Blas, the president of Germany's parliament, in Kyiv as the countries commemorated the surrender of Nazi Germany on May 8, 1945.
The visit by Blas was the first by a German official since the countries mended a diplomatic disagreement over a decision by Ukrainian officials last month to uninvite federal president Frank-Walter Steinmeier over his past Russian ties.
During the meeting, Zelensky thanked Germany for supporting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, according to a press release.
Zelensky and Blas also discussed further assistance to Ukraine and the strengthening of sanctions against Russia as the war continues, as well as the movement toward membership in the European Union.
Putin's comments on Victory Day came as Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, released a video message in which she said that "the Russian invasion of Ukraine reminds us why we are celebrating Europe Day tomorrow."
"My fellow Europeans, today our continent encounters shadows of a past we thought we had long left behind -- an atrocious war, senseless aggression and destroyed cities," von der Leyen said.
"Europe stands at the side of Ukraine. At the same time the Kremlins invasion reminds us why we're celebrating Europe Day -- the day when our peaceful, prosperous and united Europe was born."
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also released a video message for Victory Day in which he remembered the Ukrainians who have died during Russia's invasion.
"As we remember those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom and our futures, we also think of those who've died and suffered in Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine," Johnson said.
"Our respect and gratitude to those who have fought in previous conflicts strengthens our determination to support the people of Ukraine in their struggle. We won't forget the sacrifices that have been made over the generations to ensure peace and freedom in Europe."