President Trump said Friday he is considering attending Russia’s Victory Day festivities, an annual May 9 military parade on Moscow’s Red Square that commemorates the Soviet Union’s World War II triumph over Nazi Germany. Russian President Vladimir Putin invited Trump at the Group of 20 summits in June. Trump, who has yet to visit Russia as president, has openly questioned U.S. intelligence conclusions that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. “I am thinking about it,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “It is right in the middle of the political season, so I’ll see if I can do it, but I would love to go if I could.” Two U.S. presidents have attended Russia’s Victory Day parade: Bill Clinton in 1995 and George W. Bush in 2005. The 2020 events will mark the 75th anniversary of the 1945 Allied victory over Nazi Germany and are likely to have more pomp than in recent years. Russia uses the day to show off its military might — featuring 13,000 troops, 130 military vehicles and 74 aircraft in the 2019 parade.
Several Western leaders, including President Barack Obama, declined to attend the 70th anniversary in 2015 because of Russia’s annexation of Crimea the year before. Putin aide Yuri Ushakov told Russian reporters in June that invitations were also extended to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Chinese President Xi Jinping. If Trump did attend, it would be a significant public-relations coup for the Kremlin.
U.S. relations with Russia are at a low after the U.S. intelligence community accused Moscow of the election interference and raised alarms it could happen again in the 2020 presidential race. After Trump and Putin’s meeting at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Trump “responded very positively” to the offer to attend the Victory Day parade.
“It’s a very big deal celebrating the end of the war,” Trump said Friday. Trump traveled to France in June to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. In August, Trump canceled a trip to Poland for events marking the 80th anniversary of the beginning of World War II. Vice President Pence represented the White House.