Fighter jets formed the infamous “Z” symbol over Moscow as Russia prepared for its “Victory Day” parade.
Tomorrow, on the country’s most important holiday – which traditionally marks the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 – President Vladimir Putin will also demonstrate his nuclear weapons.
The capital’s Red Square will be the scene of a huge parade of soldiers and military equipment – but there are unease about what else this year’s event could bring, including fears over conscription amid war in Ukraine.
Various weapons were on display at rehearsals this weekend, including the RS-24 Yars thermonuclear ICBM, which some see as another deterrent threat from the Kremlin.
The letter “Z” has become a symbol of the conflict, adorning buildings, posters, and billboards across Russia, and many forms of it use the black and orange ribbon of St. George associated with Victory Day.
Rallies in support of the troops have been held at World War II memorials in recent days, with participants singing war songs from the 1940s.
The video showed various aircraft flying overhead, some in Z formation.
An official suggested that Victory Day protesters should show photos of soldiers now fighting in Ukraine.
Traditionally, on public holidays, Russians wear portraits of their relatives who took part in World War II to honor members of the so-called Immortal Regiment from a conflict in which the Soviet Union lost a staggering 27 million people.
In a way, the preparations for the celebration appear at first glance to be relatively similar to previous years.
Red Soviet flags and orange and black striped military ribbons are displayed in Russian cities, and local concerts are also held.
Veterans lay flowers at memorials of World War II, known as the Great Patriotic War in Russia.
But the mood is very different this year: Russian troops are dying in large numbers after Putin’s invasion of a neighboring country.
“I cannot remember a time when the May 9 holiday was awaited with such concern,” wrote historian Ivan Kurilla.
Now in the 11thth A week after the invasion, some Russians fear that Putin will use the event to declare what the Kremlin previously called a “military special operation” in Ukraine will now be a full-fledged war.
This could entail a broad mobilization of troops to reinforce Russian forces in Ukraine.
Ukrainian intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said Moscow was preparing for it.
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told LBC radio that Mr Putin would “set the stage to be able to say, ‘Look, this is a war against the Nazis and what I need is more people'”.
The Kremlin – which claims it is trying to “denazify” Ukraine – has denied having any such plans, calling the reports “untrue” and “nonsense”.
Asked Friday 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.
Still, human rights groups reported an increase in calls from people asking about mobilization laws and their rights if ordered to serve in the military.
“Questions about who can be called up and how have started flowing en masse through our conscript and military rights hotline,” said Pavel Chikov, founder of legal aid group Agora.
Popular support in Russia for the war in Ukraine is difficult to gauge in a country that has seen a steady crackdown on journalists in recent years, with independent media outlets shutting down and state-controlled television exerting pervasive influence.
A recent poll by the respected independent Levada Center found that 82% of Russians remain concerned about the military campaign in Ukraine.
The vast majority of them – 47% – are concerned about the deaths of civilians and Russian soldiers in the war, along with the devastation and suffering.
Only 6% of those affected by the war said they were concerned about the alleged presence of “Nazis” and “Fascists” in Ukraine.
Political scientist Andrei Kolesnikov recently claimed: “A significant part of the population is horrified, and even those who support the war are in a permanent psychological militant state of an eternal nightmare.”
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/05/08/russian-fighter-jets-form-z-symbol-amid-fear-over-what-victory-day-could-bring-16605505/ Russian fighter jets form the "Z" symbol amid fears of what Victory Day may bring