Speed Reads

Elusive Victory

Russia cancels or scales back Victory Day parades amid anxieties over Ukraine war

Victory Day, celebrated May 9 to commemorate the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany, is Russia's most important military holiday, typically used to showcase the country's military might and hardware. This year, "six Russian regions, occupied Crimea, and 21 cities" have canceled this Victory Day parades citing "security concerns," Britain's Ministry of Defense reports. "Moscow's Victory Day celebration is likely to go ahead but on a smaller scale. Russian President Vladimir Putin's reception following the parade (last held in 2019) will not go ahead." 

The Kremlin "likely hopes to limit typical May 9 events to conceal the degradation of the Russian military," the Institute for the Study of War think tank suggests. Much of the advanced military equipment usually paraded through Red Square "is either critical to Russian operations in Ukraine or has been destroyed in 14 months of attritional fighting." 

The "mounting anxiety following a series of attacks and over a looming Ukrainian counteroffensive" is also clouding Victory Day celebrations, The New York Times adds. Last week's drone explosion over the Kremlin "was one of several apparent attacks within Russia that have amplified jitters in the country," including a weekend car bombing outside Moscow that "seriously wounded a prominent Russian nationalist and novelist and killed his driver."

Ukraine's use of a U.S. Patriot air defense system to successfully intercept a Russian hypersonic Kinzhal missile, one of Russia's most sophisticated weapons, "has likely caused a severe amount of uncertainty for Russia" as well, CNN reports, citing a U.S. source. Putin lauded the Kinzhal in 2018 as "invincible against all existing and prospective missile defense and counter-air defense systems."

On the other side, Russia is making a final push to conquer all of Bakhmut ahead of Victory Day, to finally claim a win, and "our task is to prevent this," Ukrainian Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky wrote on Telegram late Sunday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday he will ask Ukraine's parliament to approve changing Ukraine's celebration of Victory Day to May 8, when "most nations of the world remember the greatness of the victory over the Nazis," not May 9. "We will not allow the joint victory of the nations of the anti-Hitler coalition to be appropriated," he added, comparing Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with its risible goal of "de-Nazifying" Ukraine, to Nazi Germany's invasion in World War II.