Russia marks Victory Day as Putin rails against West’s ‘arrogance’

Russian Female Soldiers Military Parade
Russian Female Soldiers Military Parade

“Russia will do everything to prevent global confrontation, but will not allow anyone to threaten us,” he said. “Our strategic forces are in combat readiness.”

Russia celebrated its annual Victory Day on Thursday, an event that has become a pillar of President Vladimir Putin’s reign.

The Russian leader used the event — which marks the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany in World War II — to rail against the West.

He accused Western elites of ignoring the critical role the Soviets played in defeating fascism in Europe.

Professor Michael Clarke, associate director of Exeter University’s Strategic Studies Institute, told Euronews in 2020 the parade does “not simply commemorate the end of the war but it represents Russia’s defeat over Nazism. As the war was a ‘near-death experience’ for the Soviet Union.”

“The parade marks the deliverance — and so endurance — of Russia,” he added.

Some 8.6 million Soviet soldiers were lost during World War Two, while 19 million civilian deaths were recorded.

Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany remains one of the most important symbols of the country’s national identity.

Russian servicemen march during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, May 9, 2024.
Russian servicemen march during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, May 9, 2024.Alexander Zemlianichenko/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

“The Victory Day unites all generations,” Putin said in a speech at the Red Square on Thursday.

“We are going forward relying on our centuries-old traditions and feel confident that together we will ensure a free and secure future of Russia.”

His speech quickly turned to Ukraine, where he hailed Russian troops and blasted the West.

Issuing another reminder of Russia’s nuclear might, he said: “Our strategic forces are in combat readiness.”

A pillar of Putin’s rule

Putin has utilised the symbolism of 9 May since becoming president in 2000 to consolidate his power, according to observers.

Celebrations have increasingly featured indications of Russia’s military might, with columns of tanks and missiles.

About 9,000 troops, including some 1,000 who fought in Ukraine, took part in Thursday’s parade.

Putin, 71, talks frequently about his family history, sharing memories of his father, who fought on the front during World War II and was badly wounded.

Russia has introduced laws that include punishing the “desecration” of memorials or challenging Kremlin versions of the war’s history in order to preserve the Soviet legacy.

Putin also evoked the Soviet’s victory in World War II when he sent troops into Ukraine on 24 February 2022, describing the “denazification” of Ukraine as the main goal and calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy a neo-Nazi.

Claims that Kyiv was run by supporters of Nazi ideology are largely baseless.

Many experts understand the focus on Victory Day as part of Putin’s rejection of Nazism as key to his justification of the war in Ukraine.

“It’s the continuous self-identification with the USSR as the victor of Nazism and the lack of any other strong legitimacy that forced the Kremlin to declare ‘denazification’ as the goal of the war,” Nikolay Epplee said in a commentary for Carnegie Russia Eurasia Centre.

The Russian leadership, he said, has “locked itself up in a worldview limited by the Soviet past.”

Categories: Russia, Shame on You
Anton Nieuwenhuizen

Written by:Anton Nieuwenhuizen All posts by the author

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