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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday vowed that "as in 1945, victory will be ours" as he congratulated former Soviet nations on the 77th anniversary of Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II.

"Today, our soldiers, as their ancestors, are fighting side by side to liberate their native land from the Nazi filth with the confidence that, as in 1945, victory will be ours," said Putin, who sent Russian troops into Ukraine in February.

"Today, it is our common duty to prevent the rebirth of Nazism which caused so much suffering to the peoples of different countries," said Putin. He added he hoped "new generations may be worthy of the memory of their fathers and grandfathers".

Putin also made multiple references not just to soldiers but also civilians on the "home front... who smashed Nazism at the cost of countless sacrifices".

"Sadly, today, Nazism is rearing its head once more," charged Putin who has insisted that Ukraine is in the grip of fascism and a threat to Russia and the Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine's east which Moscow claims to be "liberating."

"Our sacred duty is to hold back the ideological successors of those who were defeated" in World War II, which Moscow dubs "the great patriotic war," said Putin, as he urged Russians to "take revenge."

He also said he wished "all Ukraine's inhabitants a peaceful and just future".

On Monday, Moscow will officially commemorate victory over Nazi Germany with a giant military parade.

Under Putin, Russia has justified its offensive in Ukraine, launched on February 24, as a "special operation" to "demilitarise" and "de-nazify" its neighbour, a former Soviet republic which declared independence in 1991.

Here are the latest developments in the war in Ukraine:

- G7 to meet on Ukraine-

President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to hold talks with G7 leaders via video conference to discuss the situation in his country.

Further sanctions -- or at least a tightening of the huge array of economic punishments already inflicted on Russia -- are expected to be discussed.

Meanwhile, diplomats are holding difficult negotiations on the terms of the European Union's sixth round of sanctions against Russia, with several members seeking guarantees for their oil supplies.

- School in east Ukraine bombed, dozens feared dead -

Some 60 people sheltering in a village school in east Ukraine are feared dead after an air strike, says the governor of the Luhansk region, Sergii Gaidai.

Ninety people were in the village school of Bilogorivka when the air strike hit Saturday, said Gaidai on Telegram.

"The bombs fell on the school and unfortunately it was completely destroyed," he said, saying that 27 people had been saved. "Sixty people who were in the school are very probably dead.

- Battle for eastern city -

Ukrainian forces are struggling to hold on to the nearly surrounded city of Severodonetsk, the easternmost city still held by Kyiv.

Were the city to fall, it would mean Russia has gained de facto control of Lugansk -- the smaller of the two republics comprising the eastern war zone -- in time for Russia's annual Victory Day celebrations Monday.

"I would rather not guess how long we can hold on," the Ukrainian unit commander tells AFP, describing the situation as "critically stable".

A local official says about 15,000 civilians remain in the city.

- Last civilians rescued from Azovstal -

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk says "all women, children and the elderly" have been evacuated from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in the destroyed port city of Mariupol.

Kyiv urges aid agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF) to evacuate its soldiers from the steel plant, adding those wounded are "dying because of gangrene and sepsis" without medicine.

- Victory Day parade -

Russia is poised to hold its annual parade Monday marking the Soviet victory in World War II, where its military might will be showcased amid Moscow's ongoing campaign in Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin is expected to deliver a speech during the parade, which some Western officials believe could be a declaration of all-out war on Ukraine, speculation the Kremlin has dismissed as "nonsense".

- Ukraine says sinks Russian landing craft -

Ukraine's defence ministry says it has destroyed a Russian landing craft near the Black Sea's Snake Island, posting overhead footage on social media of what appears to be an explosion over a light craft. Russia has not yet confirmed the strike.

Snake Island became a symbol of Ukrainian resistance after its soldiers colourfully rebuffed a demand by the Russian warship Moskva to surrender.

- 'Staggering' Russian violations -

The Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, Dunja Mijatovic, calls Russian violations of human rights in Ukraine "staggering" after a four-day visit to the country.

The visit to areas outside Kyiv illustrated "mounting evidence of widespread arbitrary killings, torture, and enforced disappearances," the council says in a statement.

- New US weapons -

US President Joe Biden announces a new $150 million weapons package to Ukraine, including artillery munitions and radar, while urging Congress to pass a $33 billion aid package including $20 billion in military aid.

The new batch brings the total value of US weaponry sent by the Biden administration to Ukraine to $3.8 billion since Russia invaded on February 24, says Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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