Putin hails WWII heroes, warns of degrading Europe security

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin is marking the 80th anniversary of the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union by hailing the country’s World War II heroes and calling for efforts to strengthen European security. The Nazis invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, and the country lost a staggering 27 million people in what it calls the Great Patriotic War. The enormous suffering and sacrifice have left a deep scar in the national psyche. In an article published Tuesday in the German weekly Die Zeit, Putin hailed postwar efforts to restore mutual trust but blamed NATO’s eastward expansion to embrace former Soviet bloc countries in Central and Eastern Europe and ex-Soviet Baltic republics for the deteriorating security situation in Europe.