Russia prepares for the massive World War 2 victory celebrations on May 9 while showing off its cutting-edge military hardware.
What should the world expect from this day? Well, it’s unclear at this point. Given the fact that Russia has recently increased its military presence in eastern Ukraine and keeps on fueling the one-year-old Russian-Ukrainian conflict, it doesn’t bode well.
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With top US officials fearing the Kremlin might order a new military offensive on Ukraine, and US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, the top NATO commander, urging to bolster US intelligence capabilities to counter the Russian aggression, there is a certain war-like feeling floating in the air.
Another worrying situation occurred around the recent US’s decision to send its military trainers in Ukraine, which Russia believes will “escalate fighting.” It might, if pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine will try to advance further into Ukraine. Some media outlets, both Western and Russian, claim that there is a high possibility of it happening during the World War 2 victory celebrations.
What must particularly worry the West is that there were numerous comments by pro-Russian militants in Russian media that the US training of Ukraine’s army will only motivate them engage in more severe fighting due to their openly expressed hatred to the Americans.
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin tried his best to get as many (70, how symbolic) world leaders to attend the May 9 parade in Moscow, most of them have declined it over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support of rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, was very close to tickle the West’s nerves even more by attending the event, but, according to Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov, he “had to” cancel the invitation due to his “internal affairs” visit to the Hermit Kingdom.
May 9 will reveal a map of the world to confront the US
This very day is especially significant for two reasons. First, it will most likely be the last important World War 2 victory anniversary to be seen by veterans and survivors of the terrible conflict. The sad thing is that all these heroes will have to witness the ugly diplomatic tensions between Russia and the West.
The second reason is that ten years ago, at the 60th anniversary of the Victory Day, the leaders of the US, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and many other countries that are now opposed to Russia’s actions, joined the Vladimir Putin for the parade in Moscow’s Red Square.
By contrast, this year’s anniversary will include Cuba, the only American state to take part in the event, Brazil, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Norway, all former Soviet states in the Asia-Eurasia region, and some other countries.
“The leaders who will be with Putin on the reviewing stand will not be mere guests,” wrote the opposition magazine The New Times. “For Russians it will be a map of the world which is able to confront American diktat.”
And that’s a true statement considering how hard Russia has been trying to reach out to various countries and strengthen the ties.
Putin’s parents had no hate for nazis
Meanwhile, in Putin’s opinion, “It is a day of glory, a day of our people’s pride, a day of the highest veneration of a generation of victors.”
Putin, who lost many relatives during World War 2, must be well aware of the brutality and horrors of wars. And yet, he continues to act as if he is trying to unleash a new war.
According to the Russian President, his father, who was severely injured during the war, and his mother, who barely survived the Leningrad siege, did not hate Nazi soldiers. “They had no hate for the enemy, that’s what is surprising,” he recently wrote a column for a Russian magazine. “Honestly, to this day I cannot quite understand it.”
“Their [the West’s] goal is obvious: to undermine Russia’s power and moral authority,” Putin said, “to divide peoples and set them against each other and use historical speculation in their geopolitical games.”
Putin was most likely referring to the attempts of the West to downplay the Soviet Union’s pre-eminent role in winning the war. However, let’s face it: the Soviet Union’s army has played a crucial part in destroying Nazis and there is no doubt about it.
What to expect from Putin on May 9
The May 9 parade will reportedly feature 2,000 units of military hardware, about 80,000 troops as well as the first official appearance of Russia’s cutting-edge Armata T-14 battle tank, which features a new generation 125mm extended-length smoothbore cannon – the 2A82-1M.
Armata T-14 tank is equipped with the tracked platform that is able to host a fifth generation conventional land tank, artillery, heavy armored personnel carrier, and a missile launcher as well as a fully robotic armored vehicle. The gun will also be able to fire laser-guided missiles with a tandem anti-tank warhead out to 5,000 meters.
During the past year, Russia has repeatedly accused the Ukrainian government of fascism and neo-Nazism. Furthermore, Putin, whose mother had barely survived the Leningrad siege, compared the Kyiv’s military defense campaign in eastern Ukraine to the Nazi siege of Leningrad, which killed over 700,000 civilians.
Was the Putin’s statement made in order to justify Russia’s military actions against Ukraine? Or is Putin building grounds to destroy Ukraine by saying to the world: “Look, it’s Nazis again!” The question is: will the West respond firmly in case of this scenario? Or will it be another Crimea-like response that merely ‘expresses the West’s concern’?