Russia’s Victory Day parade is an annual extravagance in Red Square. Falling on May 9, it commemorates the Nazi surrender of World War II with a lavish spectacle meant to project might. Formations, tanks and sophisticated hardware go on display to remind the world of Russia’s lasting power. Celebrating what is known locally as the “Great Patriotic War” is used to stir nationalism and pay homage to the 24 million lives lost to fend off Hitler.
Konaev expects that to save face, Putin will try to distract from the reality of the war and double down on the narrative that has worked thus far: a call to nationalism and the argument that this is a war forced on the Russians by NATO expansion and that Ukraine is not a real country. “He will insist that the US and NATO are willing to risk continued violence and economic downturn around the world just to humiliate Russia and limit its power in the international order,” she says.
“Since it is May 9, they will evoke the Great Patriotic War and portray this moment as another when the Russian people must be steadfast and heroic while under attack,” she says. “Putin’s proven himself quite capable of twisting truths and reorganising the narrative in a way that might seem logically unsound but resonates nonetheless. It’s not his first rodeo or Russia’s with propaganda.”
In terms of how the war evolves, she expects the fighting to drag on through the northern summer, over modest patches of territory that might change hands back and forth, with small villages and towns destroyed in the process and Russia occasionally bombarding cities to frighten the population and demonstrate force. On the political side, she sees no real incentive for either side to compromise.
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