If the invasion of Ukraine had gone as planned according to the original plan, Vladimir Putin would have thrown the house out the window today. Instead, he had to confine his speech on the Victory Day of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in 1945 to vindicate what was done by their ancestors and launch a long series of national-populist inventions to justify the invasion of Ukraine. It was a speech empty of content to fill at ease.
Perhaps Putin had in his feverish fantasies the hope of delivering that message in Kyiv’s own Maidan Square. Instead, he went into a Moscow Red Square adorned with the same paraphernalia from the Stalin era, with just a part of the war material that is usually exhibited to display military might and without the low pass of fighter planes that shake the tomb of Lenin and the shops of the GUM galleries. There were no fighter-bombers over Moscow. Perhaps, a confirmation that the Russian air force had irreparable losses in Ukraine.
Putin’s long-awaited speech revolved around comparisons between two bloody struggles (World War II and Ukraine) but fair that demanded and demand the union of the country. But failed to declare “mission accomplished” – Here the comparison with George W. Bush is inevitable when he made that statement on an aircraft carrier congratulating himself on a victory in Iraq while the war continued for almost another decade – as was speculated. The resounding failure in his attempt to take Kyiv in three days and install a puppet government there happened three months ago and the offensive on the Donbas, the Ukrainian east, continues without defined advances.
Nor was he able to formally declare war or announce a massive mobilization, as was the plan according to advances made by Western intelligence agencies. Probably, he met internal resistance in the Kremlin. Such a decree would have given him even more extraordinary powers than he already has. For example, it facilitated the operation in case he decided to launch nuclear weapons, it allowed him to use protected economic resources and to have hundreds of thousands of young conscripts to use as “cannon fodder” in his military adventure.
However, none of this is out of the question. In the innumerable television talk shows and round tables of experts in Moscow, it is said that all this is going to happen and that it could now come out as a law from the Duma, the Russian parliament that acts as a clerk of Putin’s wishes. It is possible that the head of the Kremlin did not want to use this resource at this time, which involves political and economic risks, and that he saved it for later, thinking of a prolonged war.
So he delivered a typical Victory Day speech: “praising the generation of Soviet men and women who crushed the Nazis, urging Russians to try to live up to their memory and invoking victory as an almost mystical bond that holds the nation together”, according to the reading of a British analyst in The Times. A reading that could have been applied to any speech of its time launched by Khrushchev, Brezhnev or Yeltsin.
“They are fighting for the Motherland, for their future, so that no one forgets the lessons of World War II,” Putin said, addressing Russian forces in Ukraine. “So that there is no place in the world for executioners, punishers and Nazis.”
And he immediately took advantage of the analogy of what happened seven decades ago with his war. He invoked the memory of the Soviet soldiers who fought against the Nazis “in Kyiv, Minsk, Sevastopol and Kharkiv, just like today they are fighting for our people in Donbas, for the safety of our mother Russia.”
That is the crux of his justification for this war: Russia, he said, “always stood for peace and the prevention of a repetition of the horrors of World War II.” What he is doing in Ukraine is that, “avoid another Nazi attack”. He hinted that Kyiv might even have developed a nuclear bomb, creating a “Absolutely unacceptable threat to our security, right on our borders.”
“The threat grew day by day. It was the right, timely and absolutely unique decision possible.”, said. In fact, if he hadn’t started this war, “there could have been an even bigger one,” he said.
And he went on to praise the soldiers parading before him, many of whom, he announced, they had returned directly from operations in the Donbas. He did not say “Ukraine”, because in his narrative the war is limited to that eastern region of the country. He is convinced that he will “liberate” the Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine.
Precisely, Putin assured that Russian troops were fighting “on their land.” This could be a confirmation that he does not intend to relinquish in any way control of the territory that his forces have been taking in the last two months in the south and east of Ukraine, which would be added to the already annexed Crimean peninsula and the secessionist enclaves of Luhansk. and Donetsk.
In a rare acknowledgment of the ravages of the war in Ukraine, Putin said that the death of each soldier was a “pain for all of us” and promised that the government would do “everything possible to serve” the families of the deceased; he said that he had signed a decree on Monday to give “Special support to the children of dead and wounded comrades”. According to the calculations of the Ukrainian army and British analysts, More than 25,000 Russian soldiers would have already died. Also nine very high-ranking generals.
Since coming to power in 2000, Putin has used World War II analogies to frame his political discourse. He assures that the West betrayed the memory of British, American and other allied troops that they contributed to the victory in 1945 and that he is the only one who today represents the values of those who fought against Nazism. He links his own legitimacy to the heroism of the generation that freed Europe from the Nazi horror, while continues to use its own methods of annihilation inside and outside its country.
Infobae in Ukraine: 60 kilometers from the front, Kharkiv ignored Putin’s speech and bets on a lethal offensive against Russian troops
The map that demonstrates why Putin chose not to brag about his invasion of Ukraine on Victory Day