posted on 05/10/2022 06:00
(credit: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP)
The controversial Ilyushin Il-80 — the command plane that Vladimir Putin could use to launch a nuclear bombardment — and the supersonic fighters did not rip through the Moscow sky, contrary to what was expected. The Russian president also did not officially declare war on Ukraine, nor did he announce the intensification of the offensive in the neighboring former Soviet republic. Before the long-awaited military parade commemorating the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, Putin justified and defended the invasion of Ukraine. He assured that Kiev was planning an attack on pro-Kremlin separatists in the Donbass (east of the country), had the intention of building the atomic bomb and had the support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
In a speech in Red Square, in front of officials, officers and soldiers, Putin blamed the West for the war and sought to show optimism about the performance of troops at the front. The air power display was canceled by the authorities because of “bad weather”.
“Congratulations on the great victory. The defense of our Motherland, when its fate was at stake, has been sacred. These feelings of patriotism were important. (…) Now, during these days, you are fighting for our people in Donbass and for the security of our country. (…) Victory Day is intimately appreciated by all of us. There is no family in Russia that has not been burned by the Great Patriotic War”, declared the president. “Another punitive operation in the Donbass, an invasion of our historic lands, including Crimea, was openly under way. Kiev declared that it could obtain nuclear weapons. The NATO bloc has launched an active military buildup over territories adjacent to us. An absolutely unacceptable threat. for us was constantly being created on our borders,” he added.
Putin said the Russian attack on Ukraine was “preventive”. “It was a forced decision, timely and the only correct one. A decision taken by a sovereign, strong and independent country”, he underlined. Addressing the Russian Armed Forces, the president once again appealed to patriotism. “You are fighting for our Motherland, for its future. Let no one forget the lessons of World War II. There is no place in the world for torturers, death squads and Nazis,” he warned, as Russian troops launched missiles at cities in the east. from Ukraine.
Also yesterday, the United States revealed that it has indications that the Russians are forcibly expelling Ukrainians from their country and sending them to Russia. The government of President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced that 1.2 million people were deported to “camps” installed on Russian territory. “I can’t say how many fields there are or what they look like,” said John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman. “But we have indications that the Ukrainians are being taken to Russia against their will.”
In Berlin, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz received French President Emmanuel Macron. They both walked to the Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of the Cold War, lit up in the colors of Ukraine. “Full support for Ukraine,” Macron declared, in an atmosphere of strong symbolism. Located in the center of the German capital, the Brandenburg Gate was, until 1989, part of the wall that separated the communist and western sectors of the city for decades, becoming a symbol of the Iron Curtain.
An expert at the School of Political Analysis (naUKMA) in Kiev, Anton Suslov explained to the Courier that the narrative of the “Great Patriotic War” is one of the pillars of modern Russia’s neo-imperial identity. “Russia’s main motto is ‘We can repeat it’. It is not surprising that Putin used the military parade as a rostrum to disseminate propaganda. The speech repeated typical Russian narratives about the ‘danger of NATO’ and the ‘defence of the Fatherland’. nothing added to these propaganda clichés,” he noted.
For Suslov, the international community and Russia overestimated Moscow’s military capabilities before the invasion of Ukraine. “Corruption has corroded the Russian army, while officers tried to persuade Putin of Moscow’s military greatness. At the same time, Russian soldiers are strongly unmotivated, they don’t understand what they are fighting for. They realize that they are invaders, not defenders. This has been proven in phone calls for family members, who were intercepted,” he said.
On the other hand, he sees the Ukrainian forces highly motivated, as well as having gained experience during the battles in Donbass since 2014. “Last but not least, the Ukrainian Army was reformed in 2014 to meet NATO requirements, while Russian maintains Soviet traditions and tactics,” Suslov concluded.
Olexiy Haran, a professor of comparative politics at Kiev-Mohyla National University, accused the Russians of behaving like German Nazis in attacking a democratic nation. “By claiming that his soldiers ‘fight for the same thing as their parents and grandparents,’ Putin shows cynicism,” he lashed out. He bets that Putin will try to make military gains in eastern and southern Ukraine. “This battle has been very hard and bloody,” he admitted.