This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The leaders of the United States, Britain, and France – the main Western Allied nations during World War II — are gathering on the Normandy beaches to mark the 75th anniversary of the June 6, 1944, D-Day landings in northern France.
British Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron are scheduled to lay the foundation stone for a memorial to British troops at Ver-sur-Mer on the coast early on June 6.
That will be followed a few hours later by a ceremony attended by Macron and U.S. President Donald Trump to pay tribute to fallen U.S. soldiers at the Normandy American Cemetery.
The French and U.S. leaders’ wives — Brigitte Macron and Melania Trump — will attend the cemetery overlooking Omaha Beach, where U.S. forces suffered the day’s heaviest Allied casualties, losing more than 2,000 men.
Trump is to give a speech during the day.
Macron is also scheduled to commemorate the 177 French commandos from Free French forces who took part in the landings.
The D-Day invasion, codenamed Operation Overlord, was commanded by U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower. It remains the largest amphibious assault in history and involved almost 7,000 ships and landing craft along an 80-kilometer stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors code-named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword.
Thousands were killed on both sides.
As Allied leaders on June 5 paid tribute to the sacrifice of those who died in the 1944 operation on the French coast before more than 300 veterans, Russia’s Foreign Ministry argued that the landings did not have a “decisive” influence on the outcome of the war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who attended commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings five years ago, has not been invited to the events in Portsmouth.
The Soviet Union was not involved in the D-Day landings but was instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany with its onslaught on the Eastern Front.