Russian President Vladimir Putin staged a victory parade in Moscow’s Red Square, but is there a victory to celebrate in the first place?
According to an AP news report by Elena Becatoros and Jon Gambrell, Putin is celebrating Victory Day, but his troops make little gains in the Ukraine-Russia War.
“Russian President Vladimir Putin marked his country’s biggest patriotic holiday Monday without a major new battlefield success in Ukraine to boast of, as the war ground on through its 11th week with the Kremlin’s forces making little or no progress in their offensive,” the report said.
So, do we have to celebrate when we know that our troops are struggling and we see little gains or no progress… at all? Actually, the victory parade was about the Soviet Union’s role in the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany, not the current Ukraine -Russia war.
However, he used the occasion to make his citizens believe that Russia is winning Russia’s special military Nazi operations against a “hostile” enemy nation (indirectly referring to Ukraine).
“The danger was rising by the day. Russia has given a preemptive response to aggression. It was forced, timely and the only correct decision,” Putin said. He didn’t even mention Ukraine in his speech and generalized the war against Nazism, but the tone of his voice points to the Ukraine-Russia war.
On the ground, Russian forces engaged intense fighting against Ukraine forces in the east; the vital Black Sea port of Odesa in the south came under repeated missile attack; and Russian forces sought to finish off the Ukrainian defenders making their last stand at a steel plant in Mariupol.
Again, in his speech, Putin falsely portrayed the fighting as a battle against Nazism, linking the war to what many Russians consider their triumph over Hitler.
In said battle, in what Russia refers to as the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet Union lost 27 million people.
After encountering massive resistance from Ukraine forces in its effort to occupy Kyiv, Russia was forced to abandon its attack in the capital city of Ukraine and shifted its military efforts to capturing the Donbas, Ukraine’s eastern industrial region.
This area is very strategic for Russia, in all aspects, so this time, learning from their Kyiv and Mariupol experience, will make sure they take hold of the area.
The fighting, continue and it was a back-and-forth, see-saw- pendulum, village-by-village beating, rendering heavy casualties for the Russians. So, to lift the morale of his people, Putin somehow used the holiday speech to raise their spirits by drawing a picture that they are winning the war.
While talking about winning, Putin, at the end of his speech, gave no signal as to where the war is headed and left unanswered the question of whether or how Russia will gather more forces for a continuing war, considering that it seems that the whole world is now against him.
“Without concrete steps to build a new force, Russia can’t fight a long war, and the clock starts ticking on the failure of their army in Ukraine,” tweeted Phillips P. O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
Nigel Gould Davies, former British ambassador to Belarus, on the other hand, said: “Russia has not won this war. It’s starting to lose it. Unless Russia has a major breakthrough, the balance of advantages will shift steadily in favor of Ukraine, especially as Ukraine gets access to growing volumes of increasingly sophisticated Western military equipment.”
As Putin was celebrating his Victory Day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also was celebrating his own version of Victory Day and declared in his address that his country would eventually defeat the Russians.
“Very soon there will be two Victory Days in Ukraine. We are fighting for freedom, for our children, and therefore we will win,” Zelensky said.
According to a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the Pentagon’s assessment, “Russia has about 97 battalion tactical groups in Ukraine, largely in the east and the south, a slight increase over last week. Each unit has roughly 1,000 troops.”
The Pentagon official added that “overall, the Russian effort in the Donbas hasn’t achieved any significant progress in recent days and continues to face stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces.”
Forewarned of a high probability of missile strikes around the holiday, the Ukrainian military warned their countrymen of Russia’s next move and some cities-imposed curfews or warned people not to gather in public places.
Russia is perhaps closest to a victory in Mariupol. The U.S. official said roughly 2,000 Russian forces were around Mariupol, and the city was being pounded by airstrikes. As many as 2,000 Ukrainian defenders were believed to be holding out at the steel plant, the city’s last stronghold of resistance.
As Russia is hoping for a victory in Mariupol, the fall of Mariupol would deprive Ukraine of a vital port, allow Russia to complete a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula, and free up troops to fight elsewhere in the Donbas.
Same with Odesa, it was increasingly been bombarded in recent days, but there were no immediate reports of any casualties, and authorities. In fact, the report showed no specific area or building bombarded by the Russian troops.
Charles Michel, president of the European ouncil said the war in the country long known as the “breadbasket of Europe” has disrupted global food supplies. “I saw silos full of grain, wheat and corn ready for export, but this badly needed food is stranded because of the Russian war and blockade of Black sea ports… causing dramatic consequences for vulnerable countries,” Michel said.
Can we see a real victory parade of either side? I hope, it will be Ukraine… not Russia who caused huge damage not only in Ukraine, but around the world!
(ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at [email protected])