It is now May 9, and the speculation about what Russian President Vladimir Putin will do on the occasion of the 2022 Victory Day Parade has been answered.
Due to the war raging in Ukraine, a lot of SmartSet™ types had been speculating that Putin would use the Victory Day Parade as the catalyst to mobilize Russia for his war in Ukraine, if not declare war outright. Read my coverage of Putin’s possible courses of action at Tomorrow Is ‘Victory Day’ in Russia but Vladimir Putin Is Losing, So What Does He Offer Russia?.
The preliminaries of the parade are in the below video.
The whole parade is in the below video.
The parade was significantly smaller than in the past, and the air force fly-by was totally scrubbed.
Some 10,000 troops and 129 military vehicles were expected to take part in the celebration, which marks the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. That’s down from the 12,000 soldiers and 191 vehicles that took part last year, when attendance was restricted by the pandemic.An air display that was supposed to include warplanes roaring over Moscow in a flying Z – the main symbol of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – was cancelled at the last minute. State media reported that the decision was made because of the weather, although the skies were clear over Moscow at the time of the parade.
I expected the “Z” symbol that has become the emblem of Putin’s War to proliferate. The Kremlin propaganda machine had made a huge deal of the fighters flying in a “Z” shape.
A rehearsal of the aerial part of the Victory Parade is taking place in #Moscow today.
For the first time in history, 8 MiG-29SMT fighters flew over Red Square in the form of the letter #Z in support of the #Russian Armed Forces participating in the SVO in #Ukraine.#Russia #war pic.twitter.com/q04lDMuvff
— BelTribe News Hub (@BelTribeNews) May 4, 2022
As far as I could tell, the “Z” was nowhere to be seen. There was a marching unit of naval infantry, Interior Ministry special forces, and railway troops. Missing from the march units were airborne and Spetsnaz troops. The girls are at 44:29, not that any of you are interested in that.
Just as the parade was understated, so was Putin’s Victory Day speech.
Mr. Putin, speaking in Moscow’s Red Square on Russia’s most important secular holiday, marking the anniversary of the Soviet victory in World War II, restated his past claims that attacking Ukraine was “inevitable” and “the only correct decision.” He said Russian troops in eastern Ukraine were fighting “on their land,” an indication that Mr. Putin had no plans to relinquish control of the territory his forces had taken in recent months.
“You are fighting for the Motherland, for its future, so that no one forgets the lessons of World War II,” Mr. Putin said, addressing Russian forces in Ukraine. “So that there is no place in the world for executioners, punishers and Nazis.”
It was, as expected, a call to battle using rhetoric slandering Ukraine’s defenders as “Nazis” while evoking Russia’s victorious World War II past — perhaps the most unifying element of the country’s diverse identity. And in a rare acknowledgment of the Ukraine war’s toll, Mr. Putin said the death of every soldier was a “grief for all of us” and promised that the government would do “everything to care for” the families of the dead; he said he had signed a decree on Monday to give “special support to the children of dead and wounded comrades.”
But the speech was also conspicuous for what it did not include.
Mr. Putin did not try to frame any part of the Ukraine war as a “victory,” offering no signal of an imminent end to the conflict. His army’s efforts have fallen well short of expectations: They have been vanquished around Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital; pushed back in the northeast; and are making only sporadic gains in the Donbas, the eastern region Russia now says it is focused on.
The Russian leader did not renew his implicit threats of nuclear war, after warning late last month that countries that “create a strategic threat to Russia” during the war in Ukraine could expect “retaliatory strikes” that would be “lightning fast.”
“The United States of America, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union, started talking about its exclusivity, thereby humiliating not only the whole world, but also its satellites, who have to pretend that they do not notice anything and meekly swallow it all,” Mr. Putin said. “But we are a different country. Russia has a different character. We will never give up love for the Motherland, faith and traditional values, the customs of our ancestors, respect for all peoples and cultures.”
The smaller number of marching units, the absence of the “Z” sloganeering, any air units, and the elite of the Russian Army all gave the parade a more subdued air. It was not a victory or an on-the-cusp-of-victory celebration. Putin’s speech was a departure from previous statements on the war. He seemed reflective on the cost. In light of the propensity of Putin and his lackeys to casually threaten nuclear war, I think the absence of the “doomsday plane” that had been previewed only a couple of days ago and of any mention of nuclear weapons by Putin is a sign that Russia has weighed the “escalate to de-escalate” option and found it to be unworkable.
If you watch Putin in the videos, he seems pensive and detached.
Taken as a whole, the event seemed to acknowledge that things are not going well.
Dear citizens of Russia!
Comrade soldiers and sailors, sergeants and foremen, midshipmen and ensigns!
Comrade officers, generals and admirals!
I congratulate you on the Great Victory Day!
So now, these days you are fighting for our people in the Donbass. For the security of our Motherland – Russia.
May 9, 1945 is forever inscribed in world history as a triumph of our united Soviet people, their unity and spiritual power, an unparalleled feat at the front and in the rear.
Victory Day is near and dear to each of us. There is no family in Russia that was not scorched by the Great Patriotic War. Her memory never fades. On this day, in the endless stream of the “Immortal Regiment” – children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War. They carry photographs of their relatives, fallen soldiers who have remained forever young, and veterans who have already left us.
We are proud of the unconquered, valiant generation of victors, that we are their heirs, and it is our duty to keep the memory of those who crushed Nazism, who bequeathed us to be vigilant and do everything so that the horror of a global war does not happen again.
And therefore, despite all the disagreements in international relations, Russia has always advocated the creation of a system of equal and indivisible security, a system that is vital for the entire world community.
In December last year, we proposed to conclude an agreement on security guarantees. Russia called on the West to an honest dialogue, to search for reasonable, compromise solutions, to take into account each other’s interests. All in vain. The NATO countries did not want to hear us, which means that in fact they had completely different plans. And we saw it.
Openly, preparations were underway for another punitive operation in the Donbass, for an invasion of our historical lands, including Crimea. In Kyiv, they announced the possible acquisition of nuclear weapons. The NATO bloc has begun active military development of the territories adjacent to us.
Thus, a threat absolutely unacceptable to us was systematically created, moreover, directly at our borders. Everything indicated that a clash with neo-Nazis, Bandera, on whom the United States and their younger partners staked, would be inevitable.
I repeat, we saw how the military infrastructure is being developed, how hundreds of foreign advisers began to work, there were regular deliveries of the most modern weapons from NATO countries. The danger grew every day.
Russia gave a preemptive rebuff to aggression. It was a forced, timely and only right decision. The decision of a sovereign, strong, independent country.
The United States of America, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union, started talking about its exclusivity, thereby humiliating not only the whole world, but also its satellites, who have to pretend that they do not notice anything and meekly swallow it all.
But we are a different country. Russia has a different character. We will never give up love for the Motherland, faith and traditional values, the customs of our ancestors, respect for all peoples and cultures.
And in the West, these thousand-year-old values, apparently, have decided to cancel. Such moral degradation became the basis for cynical falsifications of the history of the Second World War, inciting Russophobia, praising traitors, mocking the memory of their victims, erasing the courage of those who won and suffered the Victory.
We know that American veterans who wanted to come to the parade in Moscow were effectively banned from doing so. But I want them to know that we are proud of your exploits, your contribution to the common Victory.
We honor all the soldiers of the allied armies – Americans, British, French – participants in the Resistance, brave soldiers and partisans of China – all who defeated Nazism and militarism.
Today, the militiamen of Donbass, together with the fighters of the Russian Army, are fighting on their own land, where the combatants of Svyatoslav and Vladimir Monomakh, the soldiers of Rumyantsev and Potemkin, Suvorov and Brusilov, fought the enemy, where the heroes of the Great Patriotic War – Nikolai Vatutin, Sidor Kovpak, Lyudmila Pavlichenko fought to the death.
I am now addressing our Armed Forces and the Donbass militia. You are fighting for the Motherland, for its future, so that no one forgets the lessons of the Second World War. So that there is no place in the world for executioners, punishers and Nazis.
Today we bow our heads before the blessed memory of all whose lives were taken by the Great Patriotic War, before the memory of sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, grandfathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, relatives, friends.
We bow our heads before the memory of the martyrs of Odessa, who were burned alive in the House of Trade Unions in May 2014. Before the memory of the elderly, women and children of Donbass, civilians who died from ruthless shelling, barbaric strikes of neo-Nazis. We bow our heads before our comrades-in-arms, who died the death of the brave in a righteous battle – for Russia.
A moment of silence is announced.
I wish the wounded soldiers and officers a speedy recovery. And I thank the doctors, paramedics, nurses, medical staff of military hospitals for their selfless work. A deep bow to you for fighting for every life – often under fire, on the front line, not sparing yourself.
Now here, on Red Square, soldiers and officers from many regions of our vast Motherland stand shoulder to shoulder, including those who arrived directly from the Donbass, directly from the combat zone.
We remember how Russia’s enemies tried to use bands of international terrorists against us, tried to sow national and religious enmity in order to weaken and split us from within. Nothing succeeded.
Today, our fighters of different nationalities are together in battle, covering each other from bullets and shrapnel like brothers.
And this is the strength of Russia, the great, indestructible strength of our united multinational people.
Today you are defending what your fathers and grandfathers, great-grandfathers fought for. For them, the highest meaning of life has always been the well-being and security of the Motherland. And for us, their heirs, devotion to the Fatherland is the main value, a reliable support for the independence of Russia.
Those who crushed Nazism during the Great Patriotic War showed us an example of heroism for all time. This generation of winners, and we will always look up to them.
Glory to our valiant Armed Forces!
For Russia! For victory!
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