16:10 Mar. 17, 2015
Shared by Ukraine Today
26 world leaders to attend Putin's Moscow Victory Day parade
Many Western leaders have rejected invitations from Moscow to attend WWII anniversary parade .
"Invitations have been sent to 68 heads of state, as well as leaders of the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the European Union. As of yesterday, leaders of 26 states, UNESCO and the Council of Europe confirmed their attendance," Lavrov said at a meeting of the Victory Day organizing committee.
Confirmed attendees include the leaders of China, North Korea, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Greece, Slovakia and Cyprus, according to the minister.
However, a number of prominent world leaders have snubbed the celebrations over Russia's military intervention in Ukraine. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has confirmed that she will not attend Victory Day celebrations in Moscow this year.
US President Barack Obama has also confirmed that he will not be joining the ceremony on May 9, which marks 70 years since the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Also not attending are the leaders of France, the UK, the Baltic states and Poland.
The snubs from major world leaders will have particular resonance in Moscow, where the Soviet victory in WWII is regarded as a source of great national pride and serves as one of the cornerstones of the post-Soviet Russian national identity.
**Update March 21, 2015:
Bulgaria has also declined the invitation to the Victory Day parade