D-Day celebrations overshadowed by Russia’s war on Ukraine

The British Normandy Memorial near the village of Ver-sur-Mer

The 80th anniversary of D-Day, otherwise known as "Operation Overlord," will remember the Allied soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy on 6 June, 1944. Czech President Petr Pavel will attend, along with 25 other world leaders, 43,000 officers, and more than a million visitors.

World leaders are descending on Normandy on the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Among those present are the U.S. President Joe Biden, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and King Charles III. Czech Radio correspondent Martin Balucha comments on the extraordinary atmosphere:

The British Normandy Memorial near the village of Ver-sur-Mer  | Photo: Czech Television

"When you look on the street you see military vehicles, in the skies military airplanes, you see military camps, and some people wearing suits and clothes from the 1930s and 40s. So, yes, the atmosphere here is extraordinary."

This year the celebration is inevitably overshadowed by Russia’s war on Ukraine and Russian leader Vladimir Putin is notably absent. Martin Balucha again on the message the European community is sending Putin:

"The message is clear that the leaders reject the Russian aggression in Ukraine. Of course, the French president made it very clear that because of the Russian aggression in Ukraine there would be no Russian delegation."

Royal Navy commandos prepare to demolish two of the many obstacles on the Normandy beach  | Photo: Hampton J A,  Imperial War Museum/Wikimedia Commons,  public domain

The assembled leaders intend to make it very clear to the Kremlin that the coalition of democratic states against Russia remains strong.

"This commemoration you could say will be a summit; leaders will certainly reaffirm their support for Ukraine. French President Emmanuel Macron will host President Zelensky on Friday. And Zelensky will also give a speech at the French Assembly before French lawmakers. And we can hear some announcements from the French president about the military coalition about soldiers, and instructors for Ukraine."

From Czechia, the celebrations will also be attended by 35 historic U.S. Army vehicles and an expedition of about 100 people from Plzeň’s military history clubs.

We can also expect to see Members of the Military Car Club Plzeň, who traditionally organize events celebrating the liberation of southwest Bohemia by the American army; the Tommy & Yankee Military History Club; Army Nurse Corps group, who focus on the role of army nurses; and the Historical and Military Equipment Club of the Czech Armed Forces, which commemorates the independent armoured brigade that landed in Normandy in 1944. They will station a military history camp in the town of Trévières.

Representatives from these camps will also visit the town of Arromanches, which was one of the busiest ports during the Second World War. Representatives from the Embassy of the Czech Republic in France and others are expected to attend the unveiling of the plaque commemorating the Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade. The unveiling will occur at the Garden of the Pines on June7.

Author: Jakub Ferenčík | Source: Český rozhlas
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