June 20, 2024

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80th Anniversary of the Landing | Allies and Zelensky hope for Omaha Beach without Russia

80th Anniversary of the Landing |  Allies and Zelensky hope for Omaha Beach without Russia

(Omaha Beach) Eight decades later, on the same beach in “bloody” Omaha, against the “occupier”: the Allies meet in Normandy on Thursday without Russia, but with the Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky, to rekindle the victory over Nazism. In Europe.

Presidents Joe Biden (United States), Emmanuel Macron (France), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are among some twenty heads of state and government expected.

They will set foot on the most iconic beach of the Landings near Bayeux (northwest), where the first American soldiers landed at dawn on June 6, 1944, and the Allies lost more men in the face of flooding. Fire is German.

Photo by Ludovic Marin, Agence France-Presse

White crosses make up some of the 9,388 graves at the American Cemetery in Colville-sur-Mer, near Omaha Beach in northwestern France.

Before the ceremony, which begins at 3:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. Eastern), the boats will again be docked at Omaha Beach for a period. This will be followed by several tables covering the history of the landings, as well as an overview of the Douglas C-47s nicknamed “Dakota”.

In the morning, national ceremonies will be held, led by King Charles III, President Biden and Justin Trudeau, in the presence of the last veterans.

The landings, organized in great secrecy by the Americans, British and Canadians, would pave the way for the liberation of France and the defeat of Nazi Germany.

But 80 years after this titanic operation, all eyes will be on Ukraine, and the outcome of a deadly Russian attack from February 2022 is still far away.

Military assistance

As a result of this “war of aggression,” Paris confirmed, Russia, one of Nazism’s greatest triumphs, now a pariah on the Western international stage, was formally excluded from the celebrations.

In 2014, President Vladimir Putin was in the name of seeking peace despite having annexed Crimea three months earlier.

He later met with Ukrainian representative Petro Poroshenko at the initiative of French President Francois Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But the popular “Normandy-style” dialogue, set up as an attempt to end the pro-Russian separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine, later broke down and led to war.

After the failure of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the second half of 2023, Russia, which already occupies almost 20% of the territory of its neighbors, continues to advance from the east to the north of the country.

Emmanuel Macron, who intends to turn the memorials into a major international event three days ahead of the Europeans, will deliver a speech on Omaha Beach, followed by a televised interview.

The president has been widely criticized by the opposition, as usual, on the home stretch of the campaign.

The head of state will receive his Ukrainian counterpart in Paris on Friday, an opportunity to make new announcements on military aid, and then President Biden will pay a state visit to the capital on Saturday.

Isolated twist

Joe Biden, who arrived in France on Wednesday to praise America’s alliances and plead for democracy, has every chance of continuing his fight with Donald Trump from afar.

Photo by Ivan Vucci, Associated Press

US President Joe Biden arrives at Orly Airport, south of Paris.

America’s allies fear that the US’s new isolationist turn could be dangerous for Ukraine in the face of Russia if its Republican predecessor wins in November.

On Wednesday, on the first day of commemoration, Emmanuel Macron praised the “spirit of sacrifice” of the liberators and paid tribute to the civilian victims of allied bombings.

Between 50,000 and 70,000 civilians were killed in Allied bombing of France in the summer of 1944, including 10,000 in Normandy alone.

“I know our country is strong in its brave, heroic youth, ready for the same spirit of sacrifice as its elders,” he declared, paying tribute to the Breton resistance fighters and the paratroopers of Free France, the British special forces. , in Blumelec.

On Friday, June 14, 1944, in Bayeux, the same place where General de Gaulle had spoken after the landings, the French head of state would give a speech, outlining his presidential plan for France in June 1946.

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