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Freedom Heart Ukraine

Fact-checking Putin’s Victory Day speech

May 11, 2023 | Featured

Roman Goncharenko | Tatjana Schweizer | Joscha Weber
May 9, 2022

A nuclear threat from Ukraine? A Ukrainian invasion of Crimea? Ukrainian neo-Nazis? Russian President Vladimir Putin's May 9 speech contained new and familiar accusations amid the war in Ukraine. Most of them are false.

On the occasion of the annual military parade on Moscow's Red Square, Russian President Vladimir Putin leveled serious allegations against Ukraine and the West. DW Fact Check examines some of the key statements from Putin's speech on May 9.

Ukrainian nuclear weapons?

Claim: “In Kyiv, they announced a possible acquisition of nuclear weapons. The NATO bloc has begun active military development of the territories bordering us,” Putin said in his speech.

DW Fact Check: False. Putin is likely referring to a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the Munich Security Conference last February. In it, Zelenskyy mentions the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, which ensures that the sovereignty and national borders of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan are respected vis-à-vis the signatory states that include the US, UK and Russia.

In exchange, Ukraine handed over its nuclear weapons inherited from the Soviet Union to Russia or partially destroyed them. However, the treaty does not contain concrete security guarantees — contrary to what Zelenskyy claimed during his Munich speech in early 2022.

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