By hyping up the Russia threat, the west helped ignite this war

On Monday 9 May, Russia will stage its customary Red Square parade for Victory Day. President Putin, his ministers and his top brass will line up on the podium, as their Soviet predecessors once did, and watch the display of Russian hard power. Western diplomats and military experts, for their part, will have their eyes peeled for anything new, just as their Cold War counterparts did before them.

With Russia at war in Ukraine, this year’s parade has been keenly anticipated abroad, but probably in Russia too, for any signals it may send about Moscow’s intentions. For the Kremlin, the anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany might offer an ideal opportunity to repeat the “de-Nazification” component of its rationale for invading Ukraine. On the other hand, that message could be downgraded or omitted, indicating perhaps Russia’s acceptance that Ukraine’s government will stay.

Some have suggested that Russia could hasten its capture of the port of Mariupol, at whatever cost, so it has at least one victory to report. Others have speculated that the patriotic fervour whipped up by the parade could prepare the way for Putin to announce a general mobilisation – in a tacit admission that the campaign could be relaunched.


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