Russia’s victory day parade reveals a subdued Putin, using the celebrations to justify the war in Ukraine as a war against Nazism while remaining silent on any new escalations or mobilization.
Russia has been unable to secure any major victories in recent days, and despite continuing to occupy Kherson, Izyum, most of Mariupol, and various other settlements, know that due to the tenuous position they are held in, a victory over these areas cannot be declared. Should Russia declare victory in any of these regions, Ukraine could follow up with a massive counter-attack, dislodging Russia from occupied territories to rebuke Putin’s statements and raise the ire of unsatisfied nationalists and dissidents at home.
Ukraine’s ongoing resistance, and the world’s continued focus on neutering Russia’s economy, have proved fatal to the Russian war effort. Putin’s victory parade was a sad reflection of this; the airshow was canceled, despite conditions being optimal for Russia’s ‘all weather’ next-generation fighters, and members of the ‘Immortal Regiment’ were arrested for carrying signs even mildly construed as anti-invasion. Russia’s procession was almost circus-like, and the notable absence of Russia’s General Valery Gerasimov drew concerns over what might be the sanest of Russia’s 3-man nuclear launch authorization group.
Additionally, Russia announced that it would withdraw forces from Syria, handing bases over to Iran and Hezbollah. On May 9th, an Il-96 registered with the Russian airforce was observed heading from Russian airspace over the Mediterannean to Algeria. Previously, it was announced that Russia would move its troops to ‘Mediterannean bases’ for pickup and return to Russia. Given that Algeria is a Russian partner for military exercises, the flight confirms the likelihood that withdrawal operations have begun. With Iran and Israel having a tense standoff following the Pentagon’s announcements that Iran was nearing nuclear status, many see a potential for an Israeli or Turkish pre-emptive strike on Syria.
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