We explain why May 9 is a key date for Vladimir Putin

“Hurray, hurray!” As every year, Russia celebrates, on May 9, “Victory Day”. This date refers to the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Allies in 1945. Several military ceremonies will be organized with great fanfare throughout the country. The Russian Interfax news agency indicated that the largest of them was scheduled on Red Square in Moscow, in the presence of Vladimir Putin, 11 thousand soldiers, 131 units of military equipment, 77 aircraft and helicopters. (in Russian).

According to what was reported by US intelligence on CNN and British Ministry of Defense (in English)May 9 also marks a deadline for the Russian president, who intends to declare a victory or significant advance on the Ukrainian front. “Before May 9, Putin set himself the goal of parading victory for this war,” Ukrainian Security Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said.

“For Russia, May 9 is a national holiday, an important military appointment, and it is almost certain that for the president Putin’s Day should be a victory day,” also said Emmanuel Macron, April 8 employment RTL.

Unlike its European allies, Russia celebrates the end of World War II on May 9, not the 8th, due to the time difference. The surrender of Nazi Germany was signed at 11:01 pm on May 8, 1945, in Berlin, or at 1:01 am on May 9 in Moscow. At the fall of the Soviet Union, this victory over Nazism became sacred and brought about by the Central Power, because Russia had to be built on a “positive” history, Carol Grimode Potter, a Russian geopolitics teacher, explains. It’s a more glorious history than the fall of the Soviet Union and a way to hide the purges of the Soviet era.”

The May 9 date brings together all generations, ethnic groups and republics of the Young Russian Federation.

Carol Grimo Potter, Russian specialist

in franceinfo

May 9 is a day of mourning, as Russians remember the more than 20 million Soviet soldiers and civilians who died during World War II, the heaviest tribe in the conflict. Parades are organized “Regiments of the Immortals”, where residents wear the St. George ribbon – a symbol of Russian military power – and parades with images of fallen soldiers.

Vladimir Putin participates in a

Then with the arrival of Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, the date becomes a great national celebration and its motto: We can repeat it. It’s about Cecil Vaese, Professor of Russian and Soviet Studies. “The idea is to say: We can defeat Nazism again”, expresses the researcher.

“There is a strong Soviet logic to the revival, with red Soviet Union flags hung on tanks, children in 1940s uniforms making Z and V markings. [symboles de soutien à l’armée russe]. ”

Cecil Vaese, Professor of Russian and Soviet Studies

in franceinfo

Traditionally, the Russian president gives a speech highlighting Russia’s greatness on the international scene, its military power, the nation’s heroes in it, Carol Grimaud Potter continues. International leaders are invited. During the military parade, new military equipment is displayed, such as tanks or sometimes ICBMs.

A tank displays the Soviet flag during preparations for the May 9 celebrations in Moscow, Russia, May 7, 2016 (GRIGORIY SISOEV/SPUTNIK/AFP)

to Moscow, “May 9 is an opportunity to show the vitality of the army and defense industrial complex,” Explains Isabelle Facon, deputy director of the Foundation for Strategic Research. Historically, Russia has relied more on its military power to impose itself in the international game than on its technological or economic sectors.

This year, Vladimir Putin can take advantage of this anniversary to set his sights on the victory of 1945 and what he calls it. “special military operation” in Ukraine. During his speech on Russian TV on February 24, he justified his invasion of Ukraine because it was necessary “demilitarized” And “Denkin the Ukrainian state”. he is He also invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his ministers A clique of drug addicts and neo-Nazis And accused them of “Genocide” towards the Russian-speaking population of Donbass.

With these references, “Vladimir Putin seeks to justify his war, presenting it as a just battle, but also in line with the objectives of the military operation that he declared at the beginning of the war,” Isabel Facon analyzes.

“By drawing parallels between World War II and the situation in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin hopes to encourage support for the population, which is still strongly labeled the ‘Great Patriotic War’.”

Isabelle Facon, specialist in Russian security and defense policy

in franceinfo

And if Moscow does not report its human and economic losses in Ukraine, “Residents see that not all of their children are going home,” Isabel Facon continues. May 9 so could be the occasion For the heroism of these soldiers and justify the economic cost of the war.

From now until May 9, what victory can the Russian president declare? Since April 18, the war has entered a new phase with the intensification of the Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine. Since then, Russian strikes have continued in the east and south, but also in the west, especially on “Railroad and road junctions to obstruct Ukrainian reinforcements”Isabelle Facon notes. However, she thinks so “Russian progress in the Donbass is still slow” And that the area is unlikely to fall by May 9.

“The most experienced Ukrainian forces are in Donbas and the Russian military position has shown signs of erosion.”

Isabelle Facon, specialist in Russian security and defense policy

in franceinfo

In his April 10 update, French colonel and military historian Michel Goya estimated that “It seems that the Russian goal is to completely capture Donbass before May 9, But Moscow had little chance of achieving this goal by that time. “We should see stabilization of operations on this date as the two opponents lack the offensive capabilities to significantly modify the front line,” he added.

On the other hand, the capture of Mariupol can be presented as a victory on this occasion. The last Ukrainian troops still resisted the Azovstal plant, but “Mariupol will fall ”, Michel Goya thinks. This will make up “A Russian tactical victory, but so hard that it is already showing as a symbolic victory for Ukraine.”

Donbass separatists in 2014-2015 sought to seize Mariupol, which resisted. TheSo the fall of the city will be his strong symbolic value“, Isabel Facon continues. This capture will also allow Moscow to consolidate its advance in the coastal strip along the Sea of ​​Azov, connecting Donbass with the Crimea. for researcher May 9, Vladimir Putin may not be talking about victory, but about success on the field and legitimacy.

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