Victory Day in Russia marks the war of rival nationalities

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For weeks, the approach of May 9 looms on the horizon of the Russian war in Ukraine. Analysts believe that what is known as “Victory Day” in Russia, commemorating Germany’s surrender to the Soviet Union and the broader defeat of fascist forces in World War II, will be a benchmark in how President Vladimir Putin maneuvers during the conflict. Released 10 weeks ago. The Kremlin’s use of the military landscape and the celebrations and speeches held on that day may feed its message about Ukraine.

Will Putin use the occasion to announce the annexation of new parts of Ukrainian territory — as he did in 2014 when Russia seized Crimea? Will he cast himself as satisfied with Russia’s territorial gains in southern and eastern Ukraine and move to scale back Russia’s nice “special military operation” in its neighbour? Will he admit that Russia is actually fighting an actual war, an admission that could pre-draw a general mobilization of Russia and an intensification of the war effort?

While much remains uncertain, it will be difficult for Putin To announce that the task has been completed on Monday. Russian forces moved into Ukraine in late February apparently on an anti-Nazi mission designed to be quick and easy, but which turned out to be nothing else. The government in Kyiv – run in part by liberal challengers from Europe, not usurping fascists – gained domestic and world support. Meanwhile, Russia is steadily becoming isolated from the Western world and facing a deep economic crisis. On the battlefield, the Russian troops suffered heavy losses and were forced to retreat humiliatingly on some fronts. On the other hand, they stumbled into the swamp and met stiff Ukrainian resistance.

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Russian officials had hoped to stage some sort of victorious display in the strategic Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, the capture of which remains one of the few military victories the Kremlin can boast. But over the weekend Ukrainian fighters were still holed up in bunkers inside a major industrial facility there, while the Russian blockade of the city left it in ruins. Even for Russian propaganda purposes, smoldering ruin can be hard to sell.

The end of the Mariupol Siege means very different things for Kiev and Moscow

That is why, on Victory Day, the Russian leader is likely to look back. “Putin will use this day to justify his war against Ukraine and to emphasize, he believes, Russia’s historic mission to fight fascism,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, president of the Paris-based political consulting firm R.Politik, Tell my colleagues. “He has to legitimize his war, and he is trying to present it to the world and the Russians as a kind of struggle for historical justice.”

Stanovaya added: “The strategic problem that Russia faces today is that Russian society was not prepared for a protracted and costly war. It wanted a quick and decisive victory, and Putin could not give it to the Russians.”

Alternatively, Putin could present his audience with a deeply nationalistic grievance. In remarks on Sunday, he once again likened the battles in Ukraine to those fought in World War II. “Today, our soldiers, like their ancestors, fight side by side to liberate their native land from Nazi filth with the confidence that victory, as in 1945, will be ours,” he said, in a speech that may be perplexing to many observers elsewhere, but it largely agrees with Putin’s new imperial view of the world.

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Putin and his allies see themselves at war not just with the government in Kyiv, but with a whole host of Western proxy forces, mobilized by the United States and other NATO member states, bent on undermining the will of the Russian people. According to Putin’s own rhetoric, Ukraine does not separate from Russia and does not only share it The same legendary story of national origin Rooted in the qualitative emergence of Russia a thousand years ago – but the national destiny. Therefore, for the Kremlin, no expression of Ukrainian national identity or aspiration for geopolitical independence can be tolerated, and every opposition to Russian influence must be reduced to a story of “Nazi” perfidy and Russian victimhood.

Of course, Ukrainians see all this somewhat differently, especially since Russia began carving out its sovereign territory in 2014. In its imperial and Soviet manifestations, Russia looms over Ukrainian history as a colonial power to exploit, assimilate, oppress and humiliate. Georgy Kasyanov bookspolitical historian at Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Poland.

Although Ukraine has been shaped over centuries and divided by overlapping empires, a distinct national tradition survives and has only gained strength in the face of Russian bullying and fomenting wars. Ukrainians, for example, pushed for the Great Famine of 1932-33, in which millions of Ukrainians died, to be recognized as a genocide caused by Soviet policies – known as the Holodomor, literally “kill by starvation”. Russian officials sought to prevent other governments from officially recognizing this date, describing that period as a period of suffering for all Soviet peoples.

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It’s a history that still ignites animosities even now, like Ukrainian officials and activists summons her legacy When Russian forces are now accused of committing mass thefts of Ukrainian grain. “In many ways, this war is a collision of two opposing historical narratives,” Kasyanov wrote in Foreign Affairs. Putin’s desire to restore imperial Russia (of which Ukraine is an essential part) has clashed with Ukrainian nationalism that has imagined a sovereign Ukrainian state and distinct Ukrainian people in various forms for over a thousand years.

Speaking to CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova said her country is ready for any escalation that might come from Putin after the D-Day speech.

“We can promise that Putin and imperial Russia will do everything they can to try,” Markarova said. The question is, are we all ready – the civilized world – to do everything possible to defend our democracy and freedom? And Ukraine is not only ready, but it has shown over the past 74 days that we are courageously defending these values ​​and defending our homes. ”

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