OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 12:01 PM – Tuesday, May 9, 2023
As the Kremlin’s military launched another cruise missile barrage at Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the West’s “untamed ambitions, arrogance, and impunity” are igniting “a real war” against the nation during his nation’s customary Victory Day ceremony on Moscow’s Red Square on Tuesday.
“Today civilization is once again at a decisive turning point,” Putin said at the annual commemorations celebrating the defeat of Germany in World War II. “A real war has been unleashed against our motherland.”
Putin made his comments just hours after Kremlin forces launched their most recent cruise missile onslaught at Ukraine, which they invaded more than 14 months ago, in what is officially referred to as a “special military operation.”
According to Ukrainian authorities, out of the 25 missiles launched, 23 were shot down by air defenses. Eight Kaliber cruise missiles were launched from carriers in the Black Sea in the eastern direction, while 17 were launched from strategic planes, according to a Telegram post from the air force.
Putin has portrayed the crisis in Ukraine as a proxy war with the West on numerous occasions.
According to the Kremlin’s official account of the conflict, Russia is currently engaged in an existential conflict with the West, which Moscow believes is only using Ukraine as a tool to annihilate Russia, while rewriting its history and trampling on its traditional values. The Russian media has primarily covered the conflict using this version of events.
Putin lauded the Ukrainian war participants and asked Russians to stand as one.
“Our heroic ancestors proved that there is nothing stronger, more powerful and more reliable than our unity. There is nothing in the world stronger than our love for the motherland,” Putin said. “Western globalist elites” that “harp about their exclusivity, pit people against each other, divide society and provoke bloody conflicts and coups, sow hatred, Russophobia.”
However, there are indications that Russia is suffering as a result of the conflict in Ukraine. According to military analysts, problems with ammunition availability, personnel morale, and ineffective leadership and structure have plagued the Russian military. Following the failure of Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbor in February 2022, the battle primarily devolved into a war of attrition over the winter.
This year’s parade seemed shorter and more condensed than normal. This year, only 8,000 soldiers marched in Red Square, the fewest since 2008. Even the COVID-19 pandemic year 2020 parade included 13,000 soldiers, and 11,000 soldiers marched in the previous year’s parade.
In contrast to past years, there was no military aircraft flyover, and the parade featured fewer pieces of equipment on display.
A significant security clampdown was also implemented in Russia for the celebrations. In Moscow, ride-sharing services and even the use of jet skis on St. Petersburg’s canals were prohibited by authorities.
According to Russian media, for the first time in years, the military parades on May 9th were postponed in 24 Russian cities. The parades are typically considered a cornerstone of celebrations all throughout Russia. Regional officials attributed the limitations and cancellations to undefined “security concerns” or vaguely mentioned “the current situation.” It was unclear if their choices had been made in consultation with the Kremlin.
Two Ukrainian drones that allegedly flew into Moscow at night and made it to the Kremlin before being shot down last week caused rising anxiety in Russia. Near the border, Russian oil depots were also struck by additional drones that were reportedly fired by Ukraine.
Another important component of the event, the Immortal Regiment processions, which historically are when citizens march through the streets carrying photographs of ancestors and loved ones who perished or served in World War II, has also been postponed in numerous locations.
Some hypothesized that this was not due to security, but rather because Russians might attend those processions with photographs of loved ones who perished in Ukraine, highlighting the scope of Russia’s losses in the protracted conflict.
The Red Square guest list was also light due to Putin’s extensive diplomatic isolation as a result of the conflict. Sadyr Zhaparov, the president of Kyrgyzstan, was initially the sole foreign head of state anticipated to attend this year’s parade. Compared to last year, when no leaders traveled, there was one additional foreign guest.
On Monday, authorities abruptly revealed that the presidents of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan would also be traveling to Moscow.
The European Union’s executive branch president, Ursula von der Leyen, arrived in Kiev hours before cruise missiles were launched against Ukraine.
Following Ukraine’s tight ties to the Western military alliance during the Russian conflict, the country reportedly hopes to join NATO. Some time on Tuesday, the U.S. is anticipated to announce that it will provide Ukraine with $1.2 billion more in long-term military aid to strengthen its air defenses, marking the latest assistance from a NATO member.
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