Russia Awaits Invitation for D-Day Aniversary: France promised Russia's participation

"Every other day I check with our French ambassador," Zakharova says Russia has not yet received an invitation to the D-Day ceremony, although France has announced it will invite Russia

by Sededin Dedovic
Russia Awaits Invitation for D-Day Aniversary: France promised Russia's participation
© Sky News / Youtube channel

Russia announced today that it has not yet received an invitation for the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, despite France stating that it would invite Russia to the commemoration, Politico reports. "These reports periodically surface, citing either officials in Paris or local French media," said Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the Russian media outlet Izvestia.

"I literally check this information every other day with our French ambassador. So far, there has been no change," she continued. Zakharova said this is not the first time World War II has been used as "manipulation" and a "subject of political games" by Western countries.

The invitation to Russia is quickly becoming a diplomatic puzzle for France as world leaders prepare to gather on the beaches of Normandy on June 6. Last week, Politico reported that several Allied countries from World War II were not thrilled with France’s decision to invite Russia.

Last month, the Liberation Mission, the organizer of the commemorations, confirmed that Russian representatives would be invited to the ceremony, although Russian President Vladimir Putin remains persona non grata due to the war in Ukraine.

The Soviet Union lost 27 million lives in World War II, and Russia has previously been invited to war commemorations in France. But as Russian forces continue their offensive in northern Ukraine, American and British officials share their unease about including Russian representatives.

Last week, two White House officials told Politico they were not happy with this gesture. "We would defer to the French government, which is organizing the Normandy commemoration," one of the officials said. "But maybe this will remind the Russians that they once actually fought against real Nazis, not the fictional ones in Ukraine." The Élysée Palace declined to comment on the story, and the Liberation Mission was not immediately available for comment.

What is D-Day?

British, Canadian, and French troops attacked German forces on the shores of northern France on June 6, 1944.

Bomber crews of the US Ninth Airforce leave their B26 Marauder aircraft after returning from a mission to support the D-Day land© Fred Ramage / Getty Images

This was the largest military operation in history up to that point and marked the beginning of the liberation of northwestern Europe from Nazi occupation.

D-Day involved the almost simultaneous landing of tens of thousands of soldiers on five different beaches in Normandy. After more than a year of preparations, D-Day was set to begin on June 5, as it was estimated to be the best chance for calm seas, a full moon, and low tide at dawn.

However, a storm delayed the operation by 24 hours – to June 6. D-Day is a military term for the first day of an operation.

What happened that day?

Airborne units landed behind enemy lines in the early hours of the day, while thousands of ships approached the Normandy coast to carry out the main attack.

Although the Germans expected an invasion, their generals believed the initial attack was just a diversion. A deception plan carried out weeks before the attack led the Germans to think that the main invasion would occur "deeper" along the coast.

This element of surprise helped British units secure a foothold on the beach codenamed Gold. Then, Canadian forces landed on another beach – Juno, and the British on Sword. American soldiers managed to reach the westernmost beach – Utah, without significant losses.

However, at the nearby Omaha beach, American troops suffered heavy losses.

US soldiers in full battle-dress boarding an LCVP or Landing Craft Vehicle-Personnel, ready for the Invasion of Europe© Keystone / Getty Images

Obstacles at sea and German bombardments were ineffective, and the Americans managed to break through the Nazi defenses.

Shortly after midnight, three British and American airborne divisions, numbering more than 23,000 soldiers, landed to protect the flanks of the beaches. Countless ships and landing crafts gathered at a specific spot in the English Channel – all with the codename Piccadilly Circus.

The directions of the Allied troops' attacks At 06:30 in the morning, the first five assault units reached the shores, covered by artillery fire from the ships. Throughout the day, troops landed on the beaches. By midnight, the Allies had established beachheads and pushed the Germans off Gold, Juno, Sword, and Utah.

How many units participated?

Nearly 7,000 ships and landing crafts were involved in the operation. A total of 156,000 people and 10,000 vehicles participated in the landings. This probably wouldn't have been possible without strong air and sea support, where Allied forces were much more powerful than the German ones.

Nevertheless, on that D-Day, 4,400 soldiers were killed, and 9,000 were wounded or went missing. The total German losses are not known, but they are estimated between four and nine thousand people. Thousands of French civilians also perished in the Allied bombardments.

What happened afterward?

Although the Allies established a foothold on the French coast on D-Day, there was still a chance that the Germans could push them back into the sea. They had to hold their positions and build fortifications faster than the German soldiers could reclaim the lost ground.

Progress through the narrow streets and well-defended towns of Normandy was slow. Eventually, the Allies managed to defeat the enemy and, with significant air support, overcame the strong German resistance. The price was high.

By the liberation of Paris – in August 1944, about ten percent of the soldiers who landed in Normandy were killed, missing, or wounded.

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