Russia’s Victory Day Celebrations: Between Historical Past and Geopolitical Present

The annual Victory Day celebrations took place on May 9, with its traditional military parade in Moscow. Victory Day celebrates the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Victory Day Parade

The Moscow parade included military columns, a Soviet-era T-34 tank, Yars intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, and Su-25 jets flying overhead.

Nine global leaders attended, including heads of state from Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Cuba, Laos, and Guinea-Bissau. Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church was also present.

However, the event was scaled back compared to previous years due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and security concerns, prompting the cancellation of parades in other regions like Kursk and Pskov.

Putin’s Address

In his traditional speech to the nation, President Vladimir Putin praised the Russian military, emphasizing the importance of the country’s soldiers during a challenging period.

He stated that Russia’s nuclear forces remain on alert and reiterated Russia’s position against Western threats. He framed the conflict in Ukraine as a struggle to protect the motherland and accused Western elites of stirring up global conflicts. He further criticized those who “ignore” the Soviet Union’s WWII contributions and spoke of Russia’s readiness to defend itself.

He also added that:

“Russia is going through a difficult period,”

while asserting that “the future of the homeland” is in the hands of its soldiers.

References to Donbas

During the parade, veterans of Russia’s Special Military Operation in Ukraine displayed unit banners representing those that fought in Donetsk, Zaporozhye, Nikolaev, and Odessa during World War II:

Other regiments were chanting slogans in support of the Russian forces in the region:

 

The event highlighted both the historical significance of Victory Day and the current geopolitical tensions surrounding the war in Ukraine. Since the start of the “special military operation” in Ukraine in 2022, the celebration of Victory Day has had important symbolic significance in Russia, especially due to the rhetoric of “denazification” omnipresent in the official discourse.

Celebrations in Chisinau

In Chisinau, Moldova, participants of the “Victory. One for All” motor rally celebrated Victory Day too. More than 600 cars joined the rally, organized by the “For a Free Motherland” Republican Public Council.

A large replica of the Victory Banner, 50 meters long and 25 meters wide, was unfurled, along with smaller replicas of the standards of the 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts that liberated Moldova in WWII.

Allegedly more than 50,000 persons took part in a Victory March, also featuring representatives from patriotic organizations and deputies from the Shor Party. This political party is known for its pro-Russian stance and connections, and the Shor-linked Governor of Gagauzia – Moldova’s autonomous region – Yevgenia Gutsul recently visited Moscow.

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