Russia marks victory in World War II in the shadow of Ukraine

As every year on Victory Day, immaculately straight columns of soldiers will march across Red Square on Monday. Tanks, armored personnel carriers and transports with huge ICBMs will rattle over the cobblestones. But this year’s celebration of Russia’s most important patriotic holiday carries exceptional weight.

The annual show in Red Square commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany has become so ritualized that one year’s parade is almost indistinguishable from another. A previously unknown device may appear; The medal-bedecked WWII veterans in the stands are getting weaker and fewer every year. Its predictability can dilute its emotional power.

This year, as Russian troops wage grueling battles in Ukraine and unleash torrents of missiles and bombs, few Russians are likely to be jaded by the parade’s rituals. Instead, they will watch it for signs of what may be next in the conflict.


Some Russians fear that President Vladimir Putin will use his speech at the parade to declare what the Kremlin insists on calling “military special operation” in Ukraine a full-fledged war.

This declaration would be preceded by a broad mobilization of troops to bolster Russian forces.

Asked by The Associated Press whether mobilization rumors could dampen Victory Day sentiment, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said “nothing will cast a shadow” on “the holy day, the most important day” for Russians.

Human rights groups are reporting an increase in calls from people asking about mobilization laws and their rights if ordered to do military service.

Russian state television has stepped up the patriotic rhetoric. Announcing the military operation on February 24, Putin said it was aimed at “demilitarizing” Ukraine in order to eliminate a perceived “neo-Nazi” military threat to Russia.

A recent TV commentator said Putin’s words were “not an abstraction or a slogan” and praised Russia’s success in Ukraine, despite Moscow’s troops deadlocked and only making marginal gains in recent weeks.


An official suggested that Victory Day protesters should show photos of soldiers now fighting in Ukraine. Russians typically wear portraits of their relatives who took part in World War II on public holidays to honor members of the so-called “Immortal Regiment” from a conflict in which the Soviet Union lost a staggering 27 million people.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. Russia marks victory in World War II in the shadow of Ukraine

Joel McCord

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