Why May Victory Day is so important to Russia – and what Putin could announce next

Vladimir Putin 'is a psychopath with no empathy' claims Browder

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The annual May military parade will take place in Moscow on May 9. Monday will see thousands of soldiers and military vehicles march through Moscow’s Red Square, while fighter jets fly overhead as part of the annual Victory Day parade. The Russian President Vladimir Putin could be poised to make some announcements regarding the Ukraine war on Monday.

The event marks the victory against Nazi Germany in 1945, much like the UK’s V-Day celebrations.

According to World Population Review, Russia suffered 6.75 million military deaths in the conflict – and that number is more than doubled if you include civilian and wider deaths in the Soviet Union.

But President Vladimir Putin’s version of the parade is more of a propaganda tool – and takes on an even more sinister tone given his bloody war in Ukraine.

Why is May 9 so important to Putin?

Victory Day was first celebrated in 1965 under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, a veteran of World War Two.

The parade occasionally took place in the Soviet Union era, and was revived after its fall by Boris Yeltsin.

But President Putin made the parade a yearly fixture in 2008, introducing the parading of military vehicles and hardware.

The President is front and centre of the parade, and always makes a speech to the crowd assembled in Red Square.

In 2014, following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, the leader delivered a speech about the defeat of fascism.

President Putin also often uses the event to outline his military intentions for the upcoming year, meaning we are likely to learn some limited developments on his plans for the war in Ukraine.

Speculation is rife that the Russian leader could declare an all-out war with Ukraine, which he has called a “special military operation” since the invasion on February 24.

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Stephen Norris, professor of Russian history at the University of Miami, said: “Putin and his advisers certainly pay attention to historical anniversaries and like to use them to bolster their hold on power.

“Given how important Victory Day has been to Putin and Putinism, it’s hard to imagine that his government won’t try to use it for some purpose.

“It’s hard to see any sort of victory being declared.

“Instead, my fear is that Putin will use the holiday to announce a new offensive and new phase of the war.”

Some experts have outlined that President Putin could use the event to announce mass mobilisation, meaning men across Russia will be called into service.

Martial law is not currently in place in Russia, and its introduction could have huge consequences for the Putin regime if enacted.

Elizabeth Wood, professor of history at Massachusetts Institute of Technology said: “It’s hard to do a general conscription. I think that that’s when Russians would come out and protest.

“You can conscript all those people in Buryatia [a mountainous region in Siberia], but if you conscript Muscovites, they’ll protest.

“I don’t think he can declare victory, either.

“I think they’re planning a long slogging war.”

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