A tank, no plane and fewer soldiers than in the pandemic: this was Putin’s lackluster military parade in Moscow

He Military Parade for him Victory Day in Russiaa ceremony that usually extols the warlike power of the Kremlin, was noted very faded this Tuesday, with commemorations overshadowed by military failures on Ukrainian soil, while kyiv assures that it is preparing a great counteroffensive.

The scant military display adds to the indications that the war in Ukraine is taking its toll on Russia. Military analysts say the Russian military has had problems with ammunition supplies, troop morale, and a lack of leadership and organization. The conflict largely turned into a war of attrition over the winter, after Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbor in February 2022 fell short.

This year’s parade featured shorter and smaller than usual.

Only about 8,000 soldiers marched on Red Square this year, the lowest number since 2008.. Even the parade in 2020, the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, had about 13,000 soldiers, and 11,000 soldiers participated last year.

The parade featured numerous armored vehicles, but few tanks (Reuters) (YULIA MOROZOVA /)

Unlike previous years, there was no overflight of military aircraftand less equipment was on display at the parade.

The event, exceptionally, lasted less than an hour.. The contrast is striking when the 1945 victory occupies a central place in the nationalism promoted by Putin.

In total, according to the Ministry of Defense, more than 10,000 soldiers and 125 types of military equipment were scheduled to parade through the cobblestones of Red Square, but most of them were armored. Only a few tanks (T-90, T-72 and T-14 models) were announced, in addition to artillery pieces, anti-aircraft batteries and cruise missiles.

Spectators had to settle for watching the ballistic missiles (Reuters)
Spectators had to settle for seeing the ballistic missiles (Reuters) (YULIA MOROZOVA /)
The sky of Moscow had no show: no plane flew over Red Square (via Reuters)
The Moscow sky had no show: no plane flew over Red Square (via Reuters) (MOSCOW NEWS AGENCY /)

The Red Square guest list was also short, amid Putin’s extensive diplomatic isolation from the war. Initially, only one foreign leader was expected to attend this year’s parade: Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov. It was a foreign guest more than last year, when no leader attended.

At the last moment, on Monday, the authorities announced that the leaders of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were also heading to Moscow.

Russia also put in place a major security device for the commemorations. Authorities have banned the use of drones and ride-sharing services in Moscow, and even jet skis on St. Petersburg canals.

The contrast with 2022

Last year, some 11,000 soldiers participated in the parade, along with 131 military teams and 77 planes and helicopters. Also taking part in the stop are the Iskander tactical missile systems, the S-400, Buk-M3 and Tor-M2 anti-aircraft missile batteries.

In 2022, numerous tanks were impressive in the capital (Reuters)
In 2022, numerous tanks were impressive in the capital (Reuters) (MAXIM SHEMETOV /)
The S-400 defense system in last year's parade (Reuters)
The S-400 defense system in last year’s parade (Reuters) (EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA /)
MiG-29 and Su-30SM fighters at the 2022 air show (Reuters)
MiG-29 and Su-30SM fighters at the 2022 air show (Reuters) (TATYANA MAKEYEVA /)
Su-25 fighters over Red Square (Reuters)
Su-25 fighters over Red Square (Reuters) (SHAMIL ZHUMATOV /)

Sabotage and fear in Russia

In recent weeks there have been attacks on Russian energy facilities, sabotage of railways and the attempted assassination of nationalist writer Zajar Prilepin, who was injured by an explosion in his vehicle on Saturday.

The result was that several parades and events planned in different cities of the country were canceledin particular in the border regions with Ukraine and in the annexed Crimean peninsula, for fear of the “terrorist” risk.

The Russian media reported 24 Russian cities that called off May 9 military parades – the staple of celebrations across Russia – for the first time in years. Regional authorities blamed the restrictions and cancellations on unspecified “security issues” or they vaguely referred to “the current situation”. It was not clear if his decisions had been made in coordination with the Kremlin.

Few international leaders attended the ceremony.  Among them, the Belarusian ally Alexander Lukashenko (Sputnik / Reuters)
Few international leaders attended the ceremony. Among them, the Belarusian ally Alexander Lukashenko (Sputnik / Reuters) (SPUTNIK /)

Last week, Russia was alarmed by two Ukrainian drones which, under shady circumstances, reportedly flew into the heart of Moscow under cover of darkness, reaching as far as the Kremlin before being shot down. Other drones allegedly fired by Ukraine have also hit Russian oil depots near the border.

Immortal Regiment processions, in which crowds take to the streets holding portraits of relatives who died or served in World War II – another mainstay of the festivity – have also been canceled in multiple cities. Some speculated that the reason was not security, but the fact that the Russians might bring portraits of relatives who died in Ukraine to these processions, illustrating the scale of the losses Russia has suffered in the protracted conflict.

(With information from AFP, EFE, AP)

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