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In Provocative Move, Putin Names Regiments After Ukrainian Cities, Warsaw, Berlin


Russian T-14 Armata tanks parade through Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow on May 9.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has named several military units after cities or other places in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Germany, and Romania, a step that may be seen as provocative by people in those countries.

The decrees -- which give a number of regiments and divisions honorary names that hark back to World War II, when dictator Josef Stalin was in power -- were signed by Putin on June 30 and were made public on July 2.

The decrees say that the names are intended "to preserve glorious military and historic traditions, and to nurture loyalty to the fatherland and military duty among the military personnel."

But the move may not go over well in the countries whose place names were used. Many in Poland, for example, see the Soviet Army less as a wartime liberator than as a postwar occupier, and there is resentment over decades of Soviet domination across Eastern Europe.

According to the decrees, the 6th Tank Regiment of the Russian Army is now called the Lviv regiment, the 68th Tank Regiment -- Zhytomyr-Berlin, the 163th Tank Regiment -- Nizhyn. The decrees give the Russian spellings of the names of the Ukrainian cities of Lviv, Zhytomyr, and Nizhyn.

Relations between Kyiv and Moscow are severely strained over Russia's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and its involvement in a war that has killed more than 10,300 people in eastern Ukraine.

Russia's actions in Ukraine have also deepened concerns in Belarus, Poland, and other countries about Moscow's intentions, and have badly damaged ties with the European Union and the United States.

in 1944, Stalin named the 93rd Tank Brigade after Zhytomyr for its role in World War II. The brigade was later reformed into the 68th Tank Regiment, which was dissolved after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The regiment was reestablished last year.

Under the decrees, the 933rd Missile Regiment is now called Upper Dnipro regiment, after the Dnipro River in Ukraine.

In addition, Russian Army regiments were renamed after the Belarusian cities of Vitsebsk, Kobryn, and Slonim, as well as Warsaw, Berlin, and Romania's Transylvania region.

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