What May 9 Means for Russia and Why It Might Be Significant for the War in Ukraine

On February 24 began the special military offensive of the Kremlin in Ukraine. After more than two and a half months of war, some Western international analysts, as well as other personalities, suggest that the next May 9 could be a date set for the conflict. On that day Russia celebrates Victory Day and the Russian president, Vladimir Putinmaintains preparations for the commemoration with the possibility that it will address its citizens and offer them a new “victory” on Ukrainian soil.

Every May 9, Russia commemorates the day on which the then Soviet Union defeated Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany troops. The anecdote that keeps this date so marked for many is that the surrender of the Nazi troops took place on May 8, 1945 at 10:34 p.m. (Central European time). However, in Russia it was already 00:43 on the 9th.

German troops surrendered on May 8, 1945 at 10:34 p.m. Central European time

It is not the only thing that is commemorated on the day since in addition to showing their patriotism and national pride, the Russians pay tribute to the soldiers killed in combat during World War II. This May 9 will have special relevance as it is celebrated within the framework of a war initiated by its own country in a neighboring territory and that has left thousands of victims between both sides.

Mariupol, key in the war in Ukraine

On March 18, the annexation of Crimea to Russia was celebrated and, during the anniversary, Putin defended the invasion of Ukraine under the pretext that it was the only alternative to avoid the “genocide” and “suffering” of the population. The latest events in Ukraine, such as the massacre in Bucha or the repeated attacks against civilians, mark a certain distance from what is celebrated every May 9 and represent a turning point in the war and, perhaps, in the future of Putin in the Kremlin .

Red Square will be filled like every year with thousands of people, but this time Putin hopes to offer some more ‘victory’

Next Monday, Moscow’s Red Square will be filled as every year with thousands of people, but this time the Russian president hopes to be able to offer his citizens some more triumph. Something that may seem unlikely due to the slow advance of his troops in Ukraine and the paralysis of negotiations since the last face-to-face meeting in Turkey. However, certain sources suggest that the president has ordered his forces to secure a victory in the city of Mariúpol ahead of that moment.

Russia needs a clear victory on the ground in order to continue justifying and defending its military action in Ukraine. The possible total fall of the besieged city of Mariupol it would be the symbol that could precede the outcome of the war. “The virulence with which the Russian artillery has been unleashed against the cities of Kharkov and Mariupol shows the need for the Kremlin to offer some kind of victory to its own population as May 9, Victory in Russia Day, approaches.”, points out Ruth Ferrero, professor of Political Science and European Studies at the Complutense University of Madrid, in this article published in this newspaper.

Putin finds himself in a very delicate position in his own country and he needs a resounding victory after in these almost two months of war some of the most important goals of the invasion have not been achieved, such as the defenestration of the Executive of Volodímir Zelenski and the subjugation of the pro-Western government in kyiv. All this has led to a change in Russian strategy and the Kremlin’s new plans are focused on control “not only of the country, but in the eastern part of it, the Donbas region”, adds Ferrero.

Russian Army military school cadets pose for a group photo on the Big Ustinsky Bridge before a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade. Victor Berzkin / Europe Press

Putin and the need for a resounding victory

Juan Antonio Sanz, Efe Agency correspondent for years in Russia, also marks May 9 as the possible key date in the Russian offensive on Donbas and other areas of eastern and southern Ukraine.. Sources from the Ukrainian General Staff have leaked several intelligence reports that would reveal the Kremlin’s orders with that date as the deadline for the war, the journalist points out.

The Russian offensive in southeastern Ukraine has accelerated in the last week as the symbolic date approaches

The Russian offensive in southeastern Ukraine has accelerated in recent days as the symbolic date approaches. Mariupol is increasingly besieged and there is no longer any talk of whether it will end up falling entirely into Russian hands, but when. Pope Francis himself has revealed that in his recent meeting with the President of Hungary, Viktor Orban, he assured him that the Russians “have a plan and that on May 9 it will all be over.”

However, despite the fact that the Russian attacks continue, the sanctions, the economic and military aid from the US to Ukraine, together with the announcement of the shipment of battle tanks with anti-aircraft capacity and heavy artillery by Germany and other European countries predict a still long war and a greater attrition that may be impossible for the Russian Army to take on. For all these reasons, other voices point out that it is most likely that the appointed day will come and without sorrow or glory.

May 9 in other countries

May 9 is also especially relevant in the former Soviet republics such as Belarus. Youth and veterans show off their uniforms and carry old photos of deceased family members, flooding the streets of these countries.

Ukraine is one of them and there is a suspicion that Russia intends to organize a commemorative event in the areas controlled by its troops in Mariupol. Petro Andriushchenko, adviser to the mayor of the city, has assured that he received the order “to clean part of the Central District of the city of debris and dead to guarantee the parade on May 9″.

In any case, it is an unknown that cannot be answered at the moment, as well as whether or not such an important meeting will be held in Moscow. with some extra “out of the ordinary”.


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