Fewer Troops, Fewer Vehicles, No Aircraft, and No Mention of Nukes or of Victory – Opinion

Now it is May 9th, and all speculations about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions at the 2022 Victory Day Parade have been resolved.

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?.

You can see the preliminaries for the parade in this video.

You can see the entire parade in this video.

This parade was smaller than usual and the fly-by of the Air Force was completely wiped out.

The celebration marks the 50th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat. It was expected that 10,000 soldiers and 129 military vehicles would attend. 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. Although the skies over Moscow were clear at the time, state media claimed that this decision was taken because of weather conditions.

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.

As far as I could tell, the “Z” was nowhere to be seen. A marching unit comprising naval infantry, special forces of the Interior Ministry, and railroad troops was also present. Spetsnaz soldiers and airborne were the only ones missing from these march units. They are currently at 44:29. Not that you’re interested.

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.”

However, the speech also was conspicuously absent of what it didn’t contain.

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 is a country with a unique 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. Putin seemed to reflect on the costs. An omission of nuclear war is a good thing, considering Putin’s tendency to use casually threatened nuclear war as a distraction. “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.

Putin seems detached and pensive in his video clips.

The event as a whole seemed to indicate that things are not going according to plan.

Official Transcript

Russia, my dear citizens!

Salute, veterans

Comrades, sailors, sergeants and captains, midshipmen, and ensigns

Admirals, generals, and comrades!

You are my congratulations on this Great Victory Day

You are now fighting for the Donbass’ people. For the security of our Motherland – Russia.

World history will forever remember May 9, 1945 as the triumph of our unification Soviet people and their unity and spiritual strength, an unprecedented feat at both the front and the rear.

Victory Day means a lot to everyone. Russia has no families that were not shattered by the Great Patriotic War. It is her memory that never goes away. On this day, in the endless stream of the “Immortal Regiment” – children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the heroes of the Great Patriotic War. Photographs of relatives and fallen soldiers, as well as veterans, are carried by the children.

We are proud to have been a part of this unconquered and valiant generation. It is our responsibility to preserve the memories of those who defeated Nazism. They left us the duty to do all we can to ensure that such horrors don’t happen again.

Therefore, Russia supports the establishment of an equal and indivisible system of security that will be vital to the whole world, regardless of all differences in international relations.

We proposed in December 2013 to reach an agreement regarding 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. But it was in vain. They didn’t want us to tell them, so they were not interested in hearing our ideas. We saw it.

Offensively, they were making preparations for another operation in Donbass to punish those who attempted an invasion of historical lands like Crimea. The possibility of acquiring nuclear weapons was announced by them in Kyiv. NATO began active military development of territories bordering us.

This created a very serious threat to our country, and it was even more obvious at our border. It was obvious that a confrontation with Bandera and other neo Nazis would occur, as Bandera is the younger partner of the United States.

We saw the development of military infrastructure, hundreds of foreign advisors, and regular delivery of modern weapons from NATO nations. Every day, the danger increased.

Russia rebuffed aggression with a preemptive response. It was the only correct, forced and timely decision. A sovereign, strong and independent country made the decision.

After the fall of the Soviet Union the United States of America began to talk about their exclusivity. This humiliated not only the entire world but its satellites as well. They have to pretend they don’t notice any and then eat it all.

We are, however, a completely different nation. Russia is a country with a unique character. Our love of the Motherland and our faith in traditional values and the customs passed down from our forefathers will not be forgotten.

These thousand-year-old West-European values have apparently decided to go out of business. These moral degradations became the foundation of cynical falsehoods about the Second World War’s history, which incite Russophobia, praise traitors and mock the memories of victims.

We are aware that American veterans wanted to attend the Moscow parade were banned. They should know, however, that we admire your achievements and contribute 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.

Dear comrades!

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.

My address now is to our Armed Forces, and the Donbass Militia. Your fight for the Motherland and its future is a noble cause. This is so that executioners, Nazis, and punitors have no place in the global community.

Today, we remember all those whose lives were changed by the Great Patriotic War. We also recall the loved ones of brothers, sisters and other relatives.

Our heads are bowed in memory of Odessa’s martyrs, who were killed in the House of Trade Unions on May 14, 2014. The memory of all the civilians killed in the neo Nazi’s barbaric attacks and ruthless shelling. We bow our heads before our comrades-in-arms, who died the death of the brave in a righteous battle – for Russia.

An announcement is made for a moment of silence.

All wounded soldiers and officers deserve speedy healing. Thank you to all the military hospital staff, doctors, and paramedics for your selfless service. A deep bow to you for fighting for every life – often under fire, on the front line, not sparing yourself.

Dear comrades!

Here, in Red Square, officers and soldiers from all regions of the vast Motherland are standing shoulder-to-shoulder, even those from the Donbass or 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 worked.

Today’s battles see our nationalities fighting alongside each other, providing protection from bullets, shrapnel and fire like brotherhood.

This is Russia’s great strength. It is our multinational, unstoppable strength.

Your great-grandfathers and fathers were fighting for. Today, you’re defending their legacy. Their highest value was the security and well-being of their Motherland. For us, their descendants, the Fatherland’s devotion is the greatest value. It provides a stable support for Russia’s independence.

The Great Patriotic War’s Nazism-era defeatists were an inspiration to us all. They are a generation of heroes, who we will continue to admire.

All praise to the valiant Armed Forces

Russia! We are a force for victory





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