BERLIN - German Chancellor Angela Merkel won't attend a May 9 Victory Day parade in Moscow but will visit the Russian capital a day later, her office said Wednesday, amid tensions over the Ukraine conflict.
Merkel has declined an invitation to attend the Red Square commemoration marking 70 years since the capitulation of Nazi Germany to Soviet forces, a government spokesman said.
However, she plans to visit Moscow on May 10 to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier together with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had agreed to the plan, the spokesman said.
Western powers including Germany accuse Russia of backing pro-Moscow separatist rebels fighting in eastern Ukraine by sending troops and weapons across the border.
Amid the worst East-West standoff since the Cold War, many Western leaders are expected to boycott the military parade, where North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is among the expected guests.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, when asked whether the Kremlin had been notified of Germany's decision, said: "I don't have this information."
But he said the refusal by some Western countries to attend would not affect the Victory Day festivities.
"This will not affect the spirit of the holiday, its emotional aspect and the scale of the festivities," Peskov said on radio station Russkaya Sluzhba Novostei.