This year’s most important Russian holiday becomes even more meaningful after Putin’s brutal and bloody invasion of Ukraine
Russian servicemen march in Red Square during the Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 9, 2017 (AFP via Getty Images)
The world’s eyes will be on Russia on Monday (May 9) as it marks Victory Day.
While the annual event has always been a mix of pride and patriotism for the Kremlin, this year there were also concerns about what President Vladimir Putin might say, out of a desire to make progress. military during his brutal invasion of Ukraine.
From the outset of the conflict, Victory Day on May 9 was central to Russia, even as Moscow understood well that a quick victory was unlikely against Ukraine’s stiff defenses.
But what is Victory Day, how is it celebrated in Russia, and what can Putin announce? Here’s what you need to know.
What is the historical significance of Russia’s Victory Day?
Victory Day in Russia marks the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, and falls the day after Victory Day in Europe (VE Day) is celebrated in Great Britain and Western Europe.
The Soviet government declared victory early on May 9, 1945 after the signing ceremony in Berlin.
Victory Day is Russia’s central national holiday and is of constant importance to ordinary Russians, many of whom carry portraits of their loved ones who fought in the war.
The Soviet Union suffered the highest human losses of any country during World War II, with 27 million Soviets killed.
As many as 11.4 million military personnel lost their lives, while millions of civilians died in the fighting, either by starvation or disease.
How is Victory Day celebrated in Russia?
Victory Day in Russia is all about parades and competitions.
It’s always a public holiday, and if it falls on a weekend, Russians can take the next Monday off work.
The first victory day parade took place on Red Square in Moscow with the participation of the Red Army and a small detachment from the Polish 1st Army on June 24, 1945.
After a 20-year hiatus, the parade was reorganized and became a regular tradition among the Eastern Bloc countries and their Soviet allies, most of which had abandoned the tradition since the 1980s.
While Victory Day lost some of its significance as Russia struggled to reform itself in the 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Putin revived it on an unprecedented scale, as it embodied a vision of love. his country on restoring Russian power on the world stage.
The Russian president always attends the military parade on Red Square, where the country’s military might is on full display, usually involving about 14,000 servicemen and dozens of vehicles. About 90 aircraft also took part in the flight.
In addition to the parades, which also take place in towns and cities across Russia, Victory Day is marked by the ‘Immortal Regiment’, where people bring along photos of loved ones or family friends who have died. World War II service and religious ceremonies associated with the Russian Orthodox Church.
What might Putin announce on Victory Day?
There are growing concerns that Vladimir Putin could use Victory Day to declare an all-out war against Ukraine, as the conflict drags into its 11th week.
The Kremlin has previously called the invasion a “special military operation”.
Many experts believe that Putin had hoped to set Victory Day as the deadline to achieve a military victory in the war, or at least claim the conquest of the Donbas region.
However, Russian forces were mired in fighting as a result of disastrous decision-making, major supply problems and low morale. It failed in its original goal of capturing the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, and its attempt to control the east stalled.
As victory is now impossible to claim, many predict that Putin will try to use Victory Day as a point to announce escalation, given the historical background of the Soviet victory over Germany. National Socialist.
Putin’s stated goal of “de-fascistizing” Ukraine as a justification for the invasion has to do with the Kremlin’s efforts to build World War II history for its own political ends. this country.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told Radio LBC that Putin “layed the groundwork to be able to say, ‘Look, this is the war against Nazi Germany, and what I need is more people’.”
The Kremlin denies having such plans, calling the reports “untrue” and “nonsense”.
Asked on May 6 whether maneuvering rumors could dampen the mood of Victory Day, President Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “nothing will overshadow” the “sacred day”. sacred, the most important day” for Russians.
However, human rights groups have reported a large number of calls from people asking about the law regarding mobilization and their rights in the event they are ordered to join the military.
Pavel Chikov, founder of legal aid group Agora, said: “Inquiries about who can be called up and how have begun to be sent on a large scale through our hotline about rights of conscripts and the military,” said Pavel Chikov, founder of legal aid group Agora.
State Department spokesman Ned Price recently told reporters: “It would be a great irony if Moscow used the occasion of Victory Day to declare war, which in itself would allow it to increase its soldiers. service in a way they can’t do now.”
“In a way, that is tantamount to revealing to the world that their war effort is failing, that they are floundering in their military campaign and military goals.”
Whatever Putin declares on Victory Day, there is little prospect of the Russian leader withdrawing his forces from Ukraine any time soon.
His original plan may have failed, but he is still aiming to create a land corridor to Crimea by capturing Mariupol, where fighting has been intensifying in recent days.
https://www.nationalworld.com/news/world/victory-day-russia-historical-meaning-could-putin-announce-all-out-war-ukraine-9-may-3685141 What is Victory Day in Russia? History and meaning explained