During Tuesday’s Victory Day celebrations in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West of unleashing “a real war” against Russia, the Associated Press reported.
The Russian president used the commemoration of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany to declare that once again, civilization is “at a decisive turning point” and a “real war has been unleashed against our motherland.”
Unlike previous Victory Day events in Moscow’s Red Square, this year’s was a smaller affair. The parade featured only 8,000 soldiers, the smallest number since 2008. Worse still, the military parade featured only one tank, a World War Two-era T-34, since all of Russia’s other tanks are needed in Ukraine. The entire event lasted less than an hour.
In his speech, Putin praised the Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine and called for all Russians to stand together, reminding them that their “heroic ancestors” were proof that there is nothing stronger than Russian unity and nothing in the world that is stronger than the Russian people’s “love for the motherland.”
Keir Giles, the Russia expert from London-based think tank Chatham House told the Associated Press that the Victory Day event is designed to showcase Russia’s military might. But much of that might has been “mauled in Ukraine,” leaving nothing to show in Red Square.
According to Russian media, 24 cities throughout the country canceled their Victory Day parades for the first time in years. Officials blamed the cancelations on vague security concerns.
In a video posted on Telegram, Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin noted the contrast between the pomp of the Victory Day celebrations at home and the realities on the ground in Ukraine.
Warning that the Ukraine counteroffensive would not be on television but “on the ground” Prigozhin said the Kremlin is not able to “defend the country.”
In a recent column at 19FortyFive, writer Peter Suciu argues that in launching his invasion of Ukraine, Putin’s dream of reunifying the former Soviet countries has turned into a nightmare as former Soviet states have aligned more fully with the West and are boosting their defenses against Russia, leaving the country isolated.