Russian President Vladimir Putin lays flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Victory Day. Sputnik/Anton Novoderzhkin/Pool by REUTERS
Some analysts have predicted that Russia’s president will announce an escalation of war.
But his message, addressed to ordinary Russians, has a medium tone.
There was no proclamation of victory or “mission fulfilled,” and there was no promise that the fighting in Ukraine would soon end.
But there were also no calls for new sacrifices or mobilization, no threat of nuclear attack, no sharp statement on Russia’s existential war with the West.
Putin looks on during the Victory Day military parade. Photo Mikhail Metzel, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo by AP.
Instead, the president Vladimir Putin was planted in Moscow’s Red Square on Monday, Russia’s most important secular holiday, and delivered a message to Russia’s general public:
that they can move on with their lives.
The military will continue to fight to rid Ukraine – in its false narrative – of “torturers, death squads and Nazis”, but Putin has never tried to prepare his people for a broader conflict.
The calculated tone shows that while some Western officials have predicted that Putin will use the May 9 holiday to escalate the war, beware of time to ask too much from ordinary Russians.
In fact, the only political announcement Putin made in his speech was one aimed at alleviating the pain directly caused by the war:
signed an order to provide extra help to the children of dead and wounded soldiers.
“He developed a certain definition of what is possible and what is not possible,” said Gleb O. Pavlovsky, a close adviser to Putin who fell from grace in 2011, explaining why Russia’s leader seems reluctant to order a mass mobilization.
“He understands that incapable of propagandato himself, of forcing a man to die. “
Western and Ukrainian officials think Putin could use the May 9 holiday martial pageantry to declare Russia a state of war and expand military recruitment, allowing him to increase his expenditures. forces that experienced so much difficulty on the battlefield.
But instead of preparing society for more sacrifices, Putin expressed what was, in many ways, a moderate speech compared to the fiery rhetoric he has unleashed on other occasions over the past two months; it is also the speech, in all its recent appearances, that Russians are likely to see, as it comes to the Victory Day parade on television.
This is the most important annual event of the Russian state, a celebration of soviet victory about Nazi Germany during World War II.
Some analysts say that while polls show that there is widespread support for the war in Russia, there seems to be concern in the Kremlin that this support is not deep.
Pavlovsky said the president seemed to want to prevent further damage to the tacit agreement with the Russian people that he himself forged after coming to power:
Ordinary Russians stay away from politics, and the Kremlin lets them live.
In fact, even more than 15,000 Russians were arrested in anti -war protests in the early weeks, most remained silent, even though they opposed it.
And even though Western sanctions have affected Russia’s economy, it hasn’t collapsed, allowing many people to continue to live largely. as usual of the attack on February 24.
Independent pollster Levada found last month that 39 percent of Russians have paid little or no attention to what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Putin, who seemed interested in limiting the investigation from worried parents, promised early in the war that conscripts – young Russians required to complete a year of military service – would not be sent into battle.
After sending many, Putin ordered one research.
A massive mobilization of Russia’s population, or a move to a war -torn economy, would weaken that balance, bringing the reality of war to many more homes.
“It may turn out that people are ready to support the war while sitting at home in front of the TV, as they say, but they’re not ready to fight yet,” Pavlovsky said.
“That’s the main position that Putin understands and tries not to hold.”
The choreography of the parade itself seems intended to be comfortably familiar; troops and vehicles marched and rolled in Red Square like previous years and showed no symbol of “Z”Who came to represent support for the Ukraine war.
Even in Monday’s celebrations, glitters of unrest continue to appear in Russia.
OVD-Info, a rights group, reported the arrest of protesters scattered across the country, including a man who placed a box of chocolates on a bank in central Moscow next to a handwritten banner that says:
“Have a sweet if you’re against the war.”
In the most dramatic action of the protest, two Russian journalists from a news website desirable the Kremlin suddenly fills their home page with anti-war articles, one has already stated that “Putin must leave”.
“Do not be afraid!” read the article, which was posted briefly on the website of Lenta.ru.
“Don’t be quiet! Fight! They are not alone, we are many! The future is ours. “
In his speech, Putin returned to the old arguments:
that the invasion was the “only right decision” because, he wrongly claimed, Ukraine was planning a “punitive invasion” on Russian -held territory, and because NATO was gathering troops near Russia’s borders.
But some analysts warn that even if Putin on Monday contradicted some Western expectations of the rise, in the coming weeks the threat remains high.
Tatiana Stanovaya, who has long studied Putin and founded France-based political analysis firm R. Politik, said the Russian president probably just saw the Victory Day parade as the right time and place. wrong to signal an increase, especially as many Russians think. still enjoying the traditional holiday season of early May.
He said the biggest danger lay in Putin’s frustration with the West’s delivery of weapons to Ukraine, and that he could use Russia’s vast nuclear arsenal to thwart it, by detonating a weapon for demonstrative effect.
In Putin’s statement, the West encourages Ukraine in the fight to weaken Russia; late last month, Putin warned that countries “creating a strategic threat to Russia” could expect “retaliation” that would be “lightning fast.”
“In his view, the problems Russia faces in Ukraine today are not because of the lack of forces, but because the West is arming Ukraine,” Stanovaya said.
“He’s at war with the West, so he has to show the West that he has to stand up. And you have to do it that way really. scare in the whole world”.
In fact, Putin devoted his most hurtful language to Monday’s speech for the United States.
The United States and its “alipores” are using Ukrainian “neo-Nazis” to threaten Russia, he said, forcing him to start the war.
And the United States, he said, “humiliated” the world after the collapse of the Soviet Union by declaring its “uniqueness”.
“Without a departure from the West, there is no way Putin will win the war today,” Stanovaya said.
Anton Troianovski is the head of the Moscow bureau of The New York Times. He was previously head of the Moscow bureau for The Washington Post and spent nine years at The Wall Street Journal in Berlin and New York. @antontroian
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