May 9: Putin's speech and intense attacks denote war is far from over

O presidente russo, Vladimir Putin, passa por um soldado durante o desfile do Dia da Vitória, em Moscou, nesta segunda-feira

Russian President Vladimir Putin walks past a soldier during the Victory Day parade in Moscow on Monday| Photo: EFE/ Maxim Shipenkov

Celebrated as Victory Day in Russia, May 9 has been the subject of apprehension and speculation around the world over the past few weeks. There were those who bet that Russian President Vladimir Putin would claim victory on the battlefield, declare a wider war, or perhaps even use nuclear weapons, to hasten the end of the conflict (or start World War III). Putin’s speech on Monday morning (9) and the intensification of Russian action in Ukraine indicate, however, that the war is far from over.

The most important holiday in the country, celebrated with military parades and fireworks throughout the territory, May 9 marks the victory of Russia about Nazi Germany in World War II. The “Great Patriotic War” left a casualty of 27 millions of people in the Soviet Union and deep wounds in the national sentiment.

In the military parade in Red Square on Monday, the Russian president gave no indication of a change in his military strategy or any broader mobilization, as Ukraine and the West feared. Addressing Russian troops, Putin justified his military campaign as necessary to avert “a threat that was absolutely unacceptable to us (which) was methodically created close to our borders.” The speech excerpt was reproduced by the Associated Press news agency.

He accused the West and NATO of having prepared an “invasion of Russia’s historic territories, including Crimea”, so that it had no choice but to carry out a “pre-emptive” attack against Ukraine.

“Result will be achieved”9103

After more than two months of war, Russia has still not managed to take the Ukrainian region of Donbass, but Putin assured that his action will meet the stated objectives. “All plans are being implemented. The result will be achieved, there is no doubt about that”, he said, after the military parade.

“If there was a single opportunity to solve this problem (Donbass) by other, peaceful means, of course we would accept it, but they didn’t leave us this option, they just didn’t give us “, he claimed.

Putin participated in this second march of the Immortal Regiment, a parade through the streets of Moscow, which also takes place in other cities in the country, in which Russians carry photos of their relatives who fought in World War II. On the occasion, he took a portrait of his father, who was a combatant in World War II, according to images distributed by the Kremlin.

Strong Combat

According to the Reuters news agency, Russian troops invaded the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol and intensified missile attacks in other locations on Monday. Putin had already declared victory in Mariupol, on the day 05 of April, but preferred to “avoid military losses” by taking over the plant, where about 2,000 Ukrainian soldiers were hiding.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said on Monday that Russian forces backed by tanks and artillery were carrying out “assault operations” at the site, which Russia denies. Control of the steel mill would be a symbolic victory to mark the 9th of May, since the Russians have not yet managed to take any major Ukrainian cities.

Ukrainian authorities also reported heavy fighting taking place in the east of the country. Four high-precision Onyx missiles were fired from Russian-controlled Crimea, hitting Odessa in southwest Ukraine. The governor of Mykolaiv, also in the southwest, stated that the night attacks were very strong.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said the Russians are trying to advance in eastern Ukraine, where the situation is “difficult”. The fear of Russian bombings on Monday also motivated care on the part of the public authorities. In Zaporizhzhia, about 230 kilometers northwest of Mariupol, a curfew was maintained throughout the day.

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