Thursday, July 25, 2024
Thursday, July 25, 2024
Home » Downbeat Putin Slams West at Low-key Victory Day Parade in Russia

Downbeat Putin Slams West at Low-key Victory Day Parade in Russia

by Riley Collins

After a year of setbacks in Ukraine, Russia’s military arsenal looked distinctly depleted.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday delivered a morose speech in Moscow’s Red Square that lasted barely 10 minutes, during which he doubled down on his justification for the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

“A real war has once again been unleashed on our motherland,” he said in the speech during annual celebrations marking Russia’s World War II victory. “Western elites talk about their exceptionalism, dividing people and provoking bloody conflicts, sowing hatred, Russophobia and aggressive nationalism, destroying traditional family values.”

For nearly eight decades, Moscow’s annual Victory Day parade has been not just a memorial to the 27 million Soviet citizens who died fighting Nazi Germany in World War II, but also a carefully curated show of Russia’s strength.

This year, however, May 9 celebrations across the country were canceled or cut short, and the usual procession of uniformed troops and heavy weaponry in the capital appeared a shadow of what it was before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In previous years, a host of foreign dignitaries have traveled to Moscow for the festivities. But this time, only the leaders of seven other former Soviet republics made the journey — representing Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Belarus and Armenia.

While the increasingly isolated Putin pledged that his troops would ultimately succeed in Ukraine, the military hardware on show suggested its armed forces are scraping the barrel for equipment.

Instead of a long line of advanced battle tanks rumbling through the streets toward the Kremlin as in previous years, the procession was led by one single, Soviet-era T-34 tank — the kind used in action against the Nazis on the Eastern Front.

Aside from a few dozen armored personnel carriers, heavy tactical vehicles used by Chechen forces and long-range anti-aircraft systems, the bulk of Russia’s once-feared arsenal was nowhere to be seen — likely in action in eastern Ukraine. Or lying wrecked on the battlefield.

“There was lots of hardware that looks tank-adjacent, but isn’t officially a tank,” one Moscow resident watching the parade told POLITICO on condition of anonymity, given strict laws targeting anyone accused of discrediting the armed forces.

Across the border, a barrage of Russian rockets rained down on Kyiv overnight, with air defenses repelling an estimated 15 missiles. Ukraine commemorated the end of World War II the day before, on May 8, aligning with Western Europe for the first time.

Meanwhile, the part of Russia’s celebrations organizers say honors those who fell in the fight against fascism almost 80 years ago — the march of the so-called Immortal Regiment, where Russians hold pictures of their loved ones who died — was canceled.

In a country where hundreds of thousands of young men are fighting Putin’s bloody war, talk of casualties is becoming more sensitive day to day.

Source: Politico

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