Ukraine will be more interested in what Vladimir Putin said at Russia’s annual Victory Day parade than in his actual words.
It will be noted that General Valery Gerasimov (the head of the Russian Armed Forces) is absent from the pompes and ceremonies, which will also be notable given that the 9 May spectacle at Red Square is the most important date on the military calendar.
According to Ukrainian officials and their Western allies, President Putin planned to use Monday’s ceremony to commemorate a major victory in his war in Ukraine. This included the fall of the government in Kyiv as well as the installation of a pro–Moscow regime.
This aspiration was thwarted in the initial weeks of the invasion, when Russian forces were stopped from trying to storm the capital.
This means that there is a lot of speculation about what, if any, Mr Putin will do to commemorate Russia’s defeat by the Nazis during the Second World War.
Officials wondered if he would make up for the limited gains made by his forces in Ukraine’s south and east.
He could also declare Russia at war with its neighbor, thereby removing the term “special military operation” and ordering a general mobilization.
Instead, there weren’t any such announcements. It was a doubling of his old positions, and no new overt threats against West.
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Putin reiterated his false justifications for sending Russian troops to fight and to die in Ukraine on February 24, accusing both the Ukrainian government and the United States and NATO allies of being aggressors and a threat to Russia’s security.
His troops were also informed by him that they are fighting for their country in the same important struggle as their predecessors, who defeated the Nazis in Second World War.
Putin also paid respects to the Russian troops that died in Ukraine, although he did not mention Ukraine by name.