On May 9, Putin will probably declare victory in Ukraine

Russian military vehicles rehearse ahead of Russia’s ‘Victory Day’ military parade marking the 77th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, at Red Square in Moscow, Russia on May 4 2022.

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As Russia approaches one of the most important dates on its calendar, there’s a lot of speculation that President Vladimir Putin could use May 9 to declare some kind of victory in Ukraine – or even war. comprehensive picture.

Also known as “Victory Day”, May 9 is an important date for Russia’s national identity as it marks the anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany at the end of World War II in 1945.

This day sees Moscow flaunting its military might with pomp, pride and competition, with massive military parades through the center of the capital, in the presence of Putin and his allies. other high-ranking Kremlin officials.

This year, the event will take on extra significance as Russia is actively involved in a military conflict with Ukraine, after invading the neighboring country on February 24.

Russian President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Vladimir Putin (C) and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (L) and Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (R) during the Victory Day parade marking the anniversary 75 years of victory in World War II, on June 24, 2020 in Moscow, Russia.

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Mobilize the masses, or win?

Western officials and geopolitical analysts, as well as Ukrainian intelligence, suggest that Putin could use this year’s Victory Day to declare victory in Ukraine – particularly in the eastern Donbas region. , where their forces have focused their attacks in recent weeks.

There are also fears that this day could see Russia redouble its invasion, ordering the mass mobilization of its troops and citizens on a wartime front.

Russia has certainly expanded its attacks on Ukraine in recent days and, having withdrawn its forces from the north in recent weeks, has focused on capturing strategically important positions in the region. southern and eastern Ukraine, especially in the Donbas region, where the country has backed separatist rebels. in the past eight years.

A tank belonging to pro-Russian rebels is seen in Donetsk, separatist-controlled Ukraine on March 11, 2022.

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Russia has repeatedly denied that May 9 will herald a declaration of war on Ukraine and has shied away from the phrase “war” since the invasion began, calling it a “special military operation”. “.

Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, this week rebuked journalists who asked what the possibility of Putin declaring war on Ukraine, by telling them “no, this is nonsense.”

Russia is ‘preparing’

Asked if Russia planned to announce full mobilization on May 9, Kyiv’s Director of Defense Intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, was adamant.

Yes, they are preparing,” he said, adding that Rosreserv – the Russian state agency responsible for storing, securing and managing state reserves of food and equipment in preparation for the state of emergency. – was” started checking to see what they really had in stock. and to calculate what they can come up with under the mobilizing order. “

“This is an absolutely necessary step before real mobilization begins,” he added.

Russian President Vladimir Putin looks ahead to the Victory Day parade on Red Square marking the 75th anniversary of victory in World War II, on June 24, 2020 in Moscow, Russia.


With ‘Victory Day’ focusing on the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany, the time is ripe for Putin to liken their invasion of Ukraine, and what he claims is the “protection” of the nation’s people. Russia is there, to protect Russia in the world. Second War.

Last week, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said he would not be surprised if Putin used Victory Day to declare Russia “is now at war with Nazi Germany in the world”. The Kremlin has repeatedly made baseless claims that the Ukrainian government is led by “Nazis” in order to justify its invasion to the Russian public, with experts arguing that this claim is not valid. truth.

How far can Putin go?

There are concerns that any mass mobilization could be accompanied by the imposition of martial law in Russia, a move that would give Putin extraordinary powers, allowing for a dramatic increase in control. the lives of the Russian people and the economy.

It not only gives him the power to close Russia’s borders and censor communications, but it can also impose curfews, control food supplies, seize private property and mobilize the population to participate. wartime operations, even to the point of being forced to work for the sake of national defense.

Russia’s constitution allows martial law if the country is under attack from an outside power and there are concerns Russia may be preparing a “false flag” attack to justify all-out and armored warfare. the law.

Destroyed buildings are believed to be as Russian attacks continue in Mariupol, Ukraine on May 4, 2022.

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One of the big questions about this is how far Putin is willing to go to achieve his goals in Ukraine.

Maximilian Hess, a fellow at the Institute for Foreign Policy Studies, told CNBC that “it’s clear he wants to get what he sees as a big win, and soon.”

Hess said the “totally annihilation” of Ukrainian troops in Donetsk and Lugansk was Putin’s main move, but “I don’t think that’s where he wants to stop.”

“Whether there is a clear overall Russian military strategy or not, the tactic is certainly a brutal one,” he added.

Many believe that Russia is focusing its attacks on the Donbas region to fully reclaim its territory and allow it to create a land bridge from Russia to Crimea, which it annexed in 2014. southern coast of Ukraine. This would give it access to ports important to its economy, and to its military fleet there on the Black Sea.

The devastated coastal city of Mariupol – the site of some of the fiercest fighting in recent weeks – appears to be a key part of this plan, as capturing it will help Russia secure its link with the city. relations between Crimea and the Donbas.

The British Ministry of Defense on Friday noted that Russian forces continued to attack the Azovstal steel plant in the city for a second day, despite Russian statements insisting they would only seek to blockade the plant. this.

Russia’s new attempt to secure Azovstal and complete the capture of Mariupol may be related to the upcoming Victory Day celebrations on May 9 and Putin’s desire for a symbolic success in Ukraine. “, the ministry wrote on Twitter.

Whether the capture of Mariupol and control of the Donbas pleases Russia and whether Ukraine is willing to concede any of its territory (say no), points to an open-ended conflict that could can last for many years. Strategists have warned that the conflict in Ukraine could turn into a war of attrition, with huge losses for both sides and no clear “winner”.

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