The Kremlin has invited 68 world leaders to participate during the military parade at the Red Square and celebration of the 70th anniversary of World War II victory.
One of the invited is Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway.
Speaking to media in Moscow on Tuesday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov criticized European countries not attending by saying “steps made by the Americans and the aggressive core of the European Union” affected the participation of European delegations in the Victory anniversary events, TASS news agency reports.
Sergei Lavrov is Russia’s Foreign Minister. (Photo: Thomas Nilsen)
Lavrov continued with saying “the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Norway have confirmed their participation in various formats.
Oslo, however, has not confirmed any participation in the Moscow celebrations.
“We have not taken any decisions yet,” says Rune Alstadseter with the Prime Minister’s office to BarentsObserver Tuesday afternoon.
“The invitation is still under consideration,” Alstadseter explains.
An invitation to Moscow is obviously a tricky case for Norway. In October last year, the Russian Foreign Minister participated in the 70th anniversary celebration of the Red Army’s liberation of Kirkenes in Norway’s northeastern corner.
Kirkenes was on October 25th 1944 the first town in northwestern Europe to be liberated from Nazi-German occupation.
Erna Solberg was sitting on the stage in Kirkenes on October 25th last year celebrating the WWII liberation anniversary together with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Børge Brende and King Harald V. (Photo: Thomas Nilsen)
Lavrov was invited by the Norwegian Government and was in Kirkenes together with Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Foreign Minister Børge Brende and King Harald V.
The planning for last year’s celebration in Kirkenes, however, started before Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military activities in eastern Ukraine.
Due to the tense situation, Norway has frozen most of its military contacts with Russia and no high-level political visits are made to Moscow.
Sergei Lavrov says according to TASS that 26 heads of states have confirmed participation in Victory Day celebrations in Moscow. In addition to listing Norway, Lavrov mentions North Korea, China, India, South Africa, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greek, Cyprus, Iceland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Macedonia, Serbia.
Lavrov also highlighted the decision of German Chancellor Angela Merkel to take part in the celebrations, but without mentioning that Merkel will skip the Red Square parade on May 9th. The German Chancellor does so due to Russia’s involvement in the armed conflict in Ukraine. She will instead fly in on May 10th to attend when President Putin will be laying wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at the Kremlin wall.
“The parameters of her participation in these events are being specified,” was all Lavrov said about Merkel’s participation.
In addition to Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron has also declined the May 9th invitation to Moscow. The leaders of Poland and the Baltic states are also boycotting.
Some 20 million Soviet citizens lost their lives in the fights during World War II.
The military parade on the Red Square will be the most massive in post-Soviet times. 15.000 infantry troops will march in front of the state leaders from Russia and the invited guests.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende laid wreaths at the Russian soldier monument in Kirkenes on October 25th 2014. Will anyone from the Norwegian Government lay wreaths on the Unkown Soldiers Tumb at the Kremlin Wall this May? (Photo: Thomas Nilsen)