A Shared Victory

The ninth of May has a very significant meaning to the Russian people. It is Victory Day. The day they celebrate victory over Germany and the end of World War II. That’s a huge deal because the lives of roughly 27 million Soviets were lost during the second world war. I’m calling it a “shared victory” because we were on the same side in the fight against Nazi Germany, if you remember your history.

Most Russian people consider the Soviet’s struggle and defeat over the Germans in WWII the most significant event of the 20th century.  Image Credit: Kirill Zykov / Moskva News Agency

Up until now, Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused to call his invasion and subsequent military actions in Ukraine a war. He politely refers to the killing and destruction as a “special military operation.” There are those in the West that believe that will all change on Victory Day, May 9th. They feel he will use the occasion of the huge parade that day to announce a formal escalation of his military actions. Actions, may I remind you, that have already cost mother Russia about 20,000 lives. More or less, depending on who you ask.

Of course, the Kremlin denies the hell out of this. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says there is no truth to the rumors “at all.” But, fair enough, we didn’t expect them to admit to it after all. It’s kind of like when a little kid breaks mom’s favorite cookie dish, and a chorus of “not me” rings out from the children. Only in this case, the “cookie dish” is Ukraine, the largest country in Europe.

So, Where Did This Idea Come From?

It’s certainly not me here at home making it up. British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace publically floated the idea. Wallace commented last week that the upcoming Russian celebration and parade could be used to drum up patriotic fervor and would be a perfect time to announce all-out war. OK, that’s not exactly what he said; here is the actual quote:

“I would not be surprised, and I don’t have any information about this, that he is probably going to declare on this May Day that ‘we are now at war with the world’s Nazis and we need to mass mobilize the Russian people.'”

Will The Russians Parade in Ukraine as well?

There have been reports for a while now that Moscow is planning some sort of additional parade in Mariupol, in southern Ukraine, to coordinate with the May 9th celebrations. Keep in mind that most of southern Ukraine is currently under Russian control, except the Ukrainian soldiers holed up under the Azovstal steelworks.

Local officials in the Mariupol area tell us that the city center is being cleared of unexploded bombs, dead bodies, garbage, and other undesirable byproducts of war. Unfortunately, there is not much they can do at this point for the large swaths of the city that sit in total ruins.

Ukrainian politician Alyona Shkrum has told BBC that she expects life in southern Ukraine to become even more difficult during Russia’s victory day celebrations:

“For Putin and for the empire, he’s trying to build, basically this is a symbolic day, right? So he takes some kind of victory day and he turns it into a big fight right now against Nazis, which is obviously Russian propaganda and completely ridiculous. We are expecting that there will be quite tough times here in Kyiv and in Odesa and in Mariupol, and in other cities for 9 May.”

Sometimes we in the West forget that one of the reasons Putin gave for invading Ukraine in the first place was to end a so-called Nazi regime. Many Russians believe that Nazis run the existing government in Ukraine and, therefore must be overthrown, just as they did with Hitler’s Nazis. The idea is ludicrous, but that doesn’t keep some from believing it.

This is why some believe the 9th of May could be used to announce an all-out offensive to take the country once and for all.

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