Russia will on Tuesday May 9 hold the 78th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.
The celebrations come as Russia is preparing for a spring offensive in neighboring Ukraine under its special military operation that has dragged on for over a year without substantial progress on the battle field.
Kremlin critics claim that the forthcoming celebrations will be the most modest celebrations of President Vladimir Putin’s two-decade rule.
“The authorities have been trying since the beginning of the Ukraine war to stop the population from feeling that there is actually war going on. And they are still trying to do this,” said Oleg Ignatov, a senior analyst at International Crisis Group.
The Kremlin has traditionally used Victory Day — a national holiday — to project an image of military might and fuel patriotic fervor.
Putin on Friday discussed preparations for Victory Day with Russia’s Security Council, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
In an unusual move, the authorities closed Moscow’s Red Square for two weeks ahead of the May 9 festivities — apparently because of the fears of a possible attack.
“The level of risk and terrorist threat is now higher than ever,” said a senior government official who requested anonymity.
The military parades that will take place — including the showpiece televised parade on Red Square — will likely include far fewer regular troops and modern equipment than they did before the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year, according to analysts.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu pledged earlier this year that the parade would feature 125 military vehicles and 10,000 personnel.
On Monday, it emerged that both Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev would be attending.