Flag-waving Russians gathered for a concert in Red Square Friday, as the Kremlin held celebrations to mark one year since it claimed to annex four Ukrainian regions.
Since Russia launched its offensive in Ukraine last year, authorities have routinely held concerts and events to drum up support for what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation”.
A large crowd, some of them singing, could be seen gathering in Red Square near a stage and large screens which read: “One Country, One Family, One Russia“.
There were children, families and elderly people, some of whom queued in long lines for ice cream and took pictures.
“Exactly one year ago, historical justice prevailed,” one of the presenters told the audience, as the crowd chanted “Russia”.
“Russia does not abandon its own. We are one country,” he said.
President Vladimir Putin on Thursday declared September 30 “Reunification Day” — one year since Moscow formally claimed the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson as its own.
Putin is not expected to attend the concert, the Kremlin said.
Moscow has repeatedly cast its soldiers as heroes battling for Russia’s existence in the face of Western aggression and “Nazism”.
Moscow held elections in the four regions this month, but does not fully control any of them and is currently battling a Ukrainian counteroffensive.