The Russian Foreign Ministry has sent out personal invitations to veterans of the Second World War from across Ukraine to celebrate Victory Day on Moscow's Red Square, Russian News Service (RSN) reports.
Speaking to RSN, Foreign Ministry representative Alexander Lukashevich notes that "in connection with preparations for the anniversary celebrations on Red Square on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, many veterans from abroad have been sent personal invitations, including veterans from Ukraine."
"This will include veterans from across Ukraine, from various consular districts, including Western, central and southeastern Ukraine," Lukashevich added. The official noted that the veterans would be accompanied by their relatives.
Veterans from across Russia, the former Soviet Union, and other countries have also been invited to Red Square, with roughly 5,000 guests invited to watch the parade from the country's central square. Parades and celebrations are also set to take place across 26 other cities in Russia, and other states of the former Soviet Union, including Ukraine and Belarus.
This year's Victory Day Parade is set to be the grandest in recent memory, with 14,000 servicemen, 194 pieces of mechanized military equipment, and 150 aircraft and helicopters set to take part. By comparison, last year's parade involved 11,000 servicemen, 151 pieces of equipment, and 69 aircraft.
The heads of state of over two dozen countries have already confirmed their attendance, while the heads of the US, Britain, Germany, Poland and the Baltic States have confirmed their refusal to attend. Ukraine's Presidential Administration has informed Ukrainian media that President Petro Poroshenko has not received an official invitation from Moscow. Ukraine is set to have its own Victory Day celebrations May 9, and has created a new Remembrance and Reconciliation holiday for May 8.
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