“No victory to celebrate”: reheated speech indicates war does not progress as Putin expected

Putin deposita flores no Túmulo do Soldado Desconhecido, no Kremlin, durante as comemorações pelo Dia da Vitória nesta segunda-feira (9)

Putin lays flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Kremlin during the Victory Day celebrations this Monday (9)| Photo: EFE/EPA/ANTON NOVODEREZHKIN/KREMLIN/SPUTNIK

There were great expectations for this year’s Victory Day – as the celebrations in Russia for the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II are called.

President Vladimir Putin was expected to formally declare war on Ukraine (the invasion has always been described by the Kremlin as a “military operation special”), which would increase recruitment and even enact martial law in Russia. Or else to declare some kind of victory in the neighboring country, for the occupation of areas in eastern Ukraine.

This did not happen, and Putin only rehashed the claim he has been making since before the start of the war, in 24 February: the West and Ukraine did not give Russia an alternative, which was forced to intervene in the former Soviet republic to fight “Nazism” (Putin compared the current conflict with the Great Patriotic War, as the Russians call the Second World War).

Although Moscow has intensified attacks on eastern Ukraine since its troops withdrew from the capital Kyiv region at the end of March, the president’s speech on Monday (9) did not indicate an increase in the military escalation, leaving a big question mark over the course of the war.

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfie ld, told CNN that the lack of a major announcement on Victory Day was an acknowledgment by Putin that there is “no victory to celebrate.”

At the same time, however, Putin reiterated the position that “the result will be achieved”, which indicates that the conflict should drag on for the next few years. months. “He has not announced a withdrawal. He has not announced a deal with the Ukrainians,” said Thomas-Greenfield. “So I suspect and we all assess that this could be a long-term conflict that could continue for months.”

Other comments also pointed out that the maintenance of the speech indicates that Putin was not able to make the big leap in the conflict he projected. “Putin repeated zombie-like phrases, not daring to do anything more serious. So the Kremlin no longer has any tricks in store. Now Putin’s defeat is a matter of time!”, wrote Gennady Gudkov, exiled former parliamentarian and oppositionist, on Twitter.

British Defense Minister Ben Wallace followed a similar line in his analysis. “There can be no day of victory, only dishonor and certainly defeat in Ukraine… He you must accept that you lost in the long run, and you are absolutely lost”, he criticized.

For reserve colonel and military analyst Paulo Filho, Putin’s pronouncement was more of an accountability to the Russian population than an announcement to the world.

“It was a speech made much more for the internal public, for the Russians themselves, for the soldiers, their families. There was a moment when he asked for a minute of silence, he said that the Russian state will support the families of those killed in the war, although he did not speak of ‘war’ at any time”, he explained.

For Paulo Filho, this tone of justification may stem from the fact that the campaign in Ukraine is not progressing at the pace that the Kremlin projected before the start of the conflict.

“There is no way to know what Putin projected, but it is very difficult to imagine that he expected that a campaign like this would last for 75 days, as it is today. Almost certainly, she’s going on a lot longer than he expected. Take 05 days and not conquer neither the Donbas region nor the two provinces that already were in civil war, Luhansk and Donetsk, it was unexpected for everyone, including most Western analysts”, pointed out the expert.

“He spoke of casualties, although there is no official Russian data updated, it is not something that can be hidden from the population: if he felt the need to talk about it, it is an indication that things are not turning out quite as he expected,” he added.

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