Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has paid tribute to the victims of World War II in a visit to the village of Milove along the Russian border, where tensions had escalated during a recent Russian military buildup.
Zelenskiy laid flowers at a memorial in the village, the president’s press service said.
Since 2015, Ukraine marks May 8 as a Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation for those who lost their lives during World War II. It marks Victory Day on May 9.
Milove is located in the Luhansk region in eastern Ukraine, much of which has been under the control of Russia-backed separatists since 2014. The separatists also hold a large part of the adjacent Donetsk region.
“Ukrainians fought together with dozens of peoples against Nazism…and definitely not for war to take the lives of our people 76 years later,” Zelenskiy said during the visit.
Tensions heightened between Moscow and Kyiv in recent weeks, when Russia moved troops along its border with Ukraine and in the Black Sea Ukrainian region of Crimea, which Moscow illegally annexed in 2014.
Kyiv said the buildup included paratroopers, electronic warfare systems, ballistic missiles, and other potentially offensive capabilities.
The Russian military claimed on April 29 that almost all its troops had now returned to their permanent bases after participating in massive drills.
Russia has provided military, economic, and political support to the separatists in Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Moscow maintains it is not involved in Ukraine’s domestic affairs.
More than 13,000 people have been killed during seven years of fighting between the separatists and Ukrainian forces.