Vladimir Putin has been accused of spouting “fairytale claims” in his Victory Day speech on Monday. 

The Russian president alleged that Nato is preparing for an invasion of Russian land, something Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said is a complete “fairytale”.

Putin used a military parade in Moscow on Monday as an attempt to cast his invasion of Ukraine as a necessary response to Western policies.

'lowly gangerism'

But Mr Wallace accused Mr Putin and his “utterly complicit” generals of “hijacking” the memory of Russian troops repelling the Nazis in the Second World War.

Instead he said they are “inflicting needless suffering in the service of lowly gangsterism”.

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Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Vladimir Putin used the Victory Day military parade in Moscow to cast his invasion of Ukraine as a necessary response to Western policies (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo/AP)Vladimir Putin used the Victory Day military parade in Moscow to cast his invasion of Ukraine as a necessary response to Western policies (Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool Photo/AP)

In Moscow, Mr Putin claimed that his attack on Russia’s neighbour was necessary to ward off “an absolutely unacceptable threat just next to our borders”.

He reportedly added at the Victory Day celebrations that the West has been “preparing for the invasion of our land, including Crimea”.

But, asked by journalists after a speech at London’s National Army Museum in Chelsea, south-west London, Mr Wallace bluntly denied that Nato and western allies have ever planned to attack Russia.

“President Putin has made a number of fairytale claims for months and years now,” the Cabinet minister said.

“If it wasn’t so tragic it would be amusing, but it isn’t.

“One of his claims is that he is surrounded. Nato accounts for 6% of his land border. That’s not being surrounded if only 6% of your land border is Nato countries.

“I think he is believing what he wants to believe – a slight shine of desperation. But let me put on the record categorically: Nato, Britain, eastern Europe is not planning to invade Russia and never has done.”

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Mr Wallace accused the Russian regime of “mirroring (the) fascism and tyranny” of Nazi Germany as the Moscow parade to celebrate the 1945 victory over Hitler’s forces was under way.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:  Ben Wallace (Aaron Chown/PA) Ben Wallace (Aaron Chown/PA)

The Defence Secretary said Russian suffering was used under the Soviets “as it is now, to cover up the inadequacy of those ruling in safety and comfort from behind the Kremlin walls”.

“Fear and sycophancy dictated behaviours then, and today’s Russian armed forces still carry that Soviet imprint – the imprint of amorality and corruption,” he said.

Mr Wallace’s speech came after Foreign Secretary Liz Truss accused Russia of war crimes over the bombing of a school in eastern Ukraine where civilians were sheltering.

Up to 60 are feared dead after the school in Bilohorivka in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine was bombed and caught fire on Saturday.

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The UK has pledged an extra £1.3 billion in military support to Ukraine, in a dramatic escalation of assistance for Mr Zelensky’s forces.

It is the highest rate of UK military spending on a conflict since the height of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.