Russia prepares its symbolic Victory Day amid doubts about the conflict in Ukraine

Moscow rules out ending its offensive on that date, while speculating with possible announcements


Russia is already finalizing the preparations for Victory Day, with which it commemorates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany every May 9. On this occasion, the acts are preceded by a military offensive in Ukraine and speculation about possible changes in said conflict coinciding with the symbolic date.

The main Victory Day event takes place in Moscow’s Red Square, the scene of a military parade in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the main political and military officials.

“We have not invited any foreign leader,” Kremlin spokesman Dimitri Peskov confirmed last week, anticipating the organization of “a holy day for Russia and the Russian people.”

The 2021 celebrations were not attended by foreign leaders either – only the one from Tajikistan and because he was on an official visit – and then Moscow justified it because it was not a round anniversary. This May 9, Russia will commemorate 77 years of its victory over Adolf Hitler’s regime, predictably with a new display of its weapons capabilities.

In 2015, after the annexation of the Crimean peninsula, Russia used the parade to show off new weapons, but this time no big fuss is expected from a military point of view. Peskov himself has acknowledged a “significant” number of personal casualties after the start of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, although Moscow does not offer current figures.

kyiv assures that more than 20,000 Russian soldiers have died and British Intelligence, which prepares its own reports, estimates that there would be at least 15,000. Data aside, what seems confirmed at this point is that on the ground things have not gone as Putin would have liked when he announced the start of the “special operation”.


For Putin, the war in Ukraine is not such. Both he and the Russian leadership stick to the term ‘special operation’ to refer to the offensive and have even punished the media and activists who allude to terms such as war or invasion, in a repressive escalation that has resulted in a single line of speech media.

However, in Western political circles it is expected that the Russian president may use Victory Day to officially declare war, according to sources consulted by the US network CNN. In practice, it would facilitate the mobilization of more troops and reservists, after Moscow has even resorted to foreign mercenaries to counter Ukrainian resistance.

British Defense Minister Ben Wallace also said in an interview with LBC Radio that Putin will turn the page on the “special operation” to talk openly about war. The premise would be clear: “We are at war with the Nazis and I need more people,” Wallace declared.

The “denazification” of Ukraine has featured recurrently among Russian justifications for the invasion, despite shifting objectives after Russian forces failed to advance in key urban areas such as kyiv. Operations are now focused on “liberating” Donbas, although offensives are also being carried out throughout the eastern and southern areas for this purpose.

Moscow has avoided speculating about the potential change in terminology, but has challenged doubts about a hasty resolution of the conflict. “Our troops will not artificially base their activities on a specific date,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a recent interview with the Italian conglomerate Mediaset.

Pope Francis joined the rumors on Tuesday, revealing in an interview with ‘Il Corriere della Sera’ that the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, told him on April 21 during their meeting in the Vatican that ” The Russians have a plan, that everything will end on May 9.”

The spokesman for the US State Department, Ned Price, believes that there are “good reasons” to believe that “the Russians will use everything they can” to make May 9 a day also conducive to propaganda in relation to Ukraine, so that in Washington they do not rule out advertisements.

Among possible milestones on the table would be the annexation of the separatist regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, whose independence Moscow already recognized just a few days before the invasion, a declaration on the total capture of the city of Mariupol or the clear opening of new battle fronts in other parts of Ukraine such as Odessa, according to US sources quoted by CNN.

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