On Friday, a group of Russians commemorated the first anniversary of the Kremlin’s announcement of the annexation of four Ukrainian regions to the territory of Russia, waving their country’s flag during a concert held in Red Square in Moscow.

Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russian authorities have periodically held concerts and events to rally support for the attack, which President Vladimir Putin called a “special military operation”.

A crowd of Russians gathered on Friday in Red Square, carrying their country’s flag, and some of them sang near a stage and giant screens on which were written, “One country, one family, one Russia”.

The attendees included elderly people, children and families, and some stood in long lines to buy ice cream or take pictures.

The Kremlin confirmed that Putin is not expected to attend this celebration.

One of the ceremony’s presenters said, “Exactly one year ago, historical justice triumphed,” as attendees chanted, “Russia”.

He continued, “Russia doesn’t give up what is its own… We are one country”.

Putin declared Thursday, September 30, “Unification Day” on the first anniversary of Russia’s announcement of the annexation of the regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhia.

This September, Russia held local elections in these four regions, although it doesn’t fully control any of them.

Russian forces in eastern and southern Ukraine are facing a counterattack launched by Kiev forces in early June, however, progress is still slow.

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