The historic scenes of May 9 in Moscow [OPINION]


A public holiday since 1965, May 9, Victory Day, celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, has long been a landmark date on the Soviet/Russian calendar. Under Vladimir Putin, as noted by many commentators, the “Great Patriotic War” functions as a key concept to federate and mobilize public opinion. Yet it should be noted that the dates of this war (1941-1945) do not cover the whole of the Second World War. The omission of the period 1939-1941 is not insignificant: before the invasion of the USSR by Germany in 1941, Hitler and Stalin were bound by the non-aggression pact Ribbentrop–Molotov signed on August 23, 1939, the idea of ​​an Anglo-Franco-Soviet alliance having failed. The infamous “secret protocol” attached to the pact (whose existence was not admitted in Russia until 1989) gave the Soviets carte blanche for their actions against the Baltic states, Finland and Bessarabia – present-day Moldova – as well as eastern Poland. All these territories were duly attacked and occupied (except Finland because of its resistance during the Winter War of 1939-1940) by the USSR before the launch of Operation Barbarossa by Hitler on June 22, 1941 which put end of the agreement. The link between the signing of the pact and the German invasion of Poland a week later is obvious: one can say that, if it was Hitler who opened hostilities, it was the USSR who dictated the timetable. initial.

It is interesting to note an evolution of Putin's words over time regarding the German-Soviet pact. Again in 2009-2010, when he sought to normalize his relations with the Polish government, Putin was ready to condemn the 1939 agreement. In 2014-2015, however, a tactical about-face seems to have occurred in the Kremlin, with Hitler and Stalin's collaboration even becoming a "eminent success" of Soviet diplomacy, according to Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky. The reasons for this new reading are quite obvious. Listening to Moscow's rhetoric against neighboring countries, Russian heroism and its ideological purity in the face of Nazism – openly evoked to justify the current Ukrainian campaign – are central notions, on May 9 their public consecration. This account logically excludes any criticism of the actions of the USSR during the Second World War; a law was also passed in 2014 that criminalizes the "spreading of false information" on this subject, a term used in the Soviet penal code against dissidents, as the historian notes Nikolai Koposov.

After weeks of media speculation regarding possible belligerent statements by Vladimir Putin on May 9, the day itself finally took place in halftones. Fewer troops than usual marched through Moscow, Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov was absent, and no military aircraft (including the famous " plane of the apocalypse“, the Ilyushin II-80) appeared in the sky. War was not officially declared on Ukraine and general Russian mobilization was not announced. Rather, Putin's speech was a consolidation of the existing Russian narrative for an already acquired national audience, with all the tropisms already known: the fight against Nazism, the "inevitability" of conflict with the West in the light of a threat imminent NATO attack on Russian territory and Ukraine's intention to acquire nuclear weapons. Significantly, there was no mention of military objectives other than the struggle for Donbass.

Analysts and diplomats have therefore focused on what was not said in Red Square on Monday and why. Mikhail Kasyanov, former Prime Minister of Putin (2000-2004) who had become very critical of him, for example considered that the Russian president could not declare war on Ukraine (a constitutional prerequisite for general mobilization) at this stage, because that would have been a confession de facto of the failure of the current "special military operation". For Kasyanov, Putin's fairly stereotypical speech would therefore reflect the stalemate on the ground in Ukraine and the inability of Russian forces to proclaim any concrete victory. A somewhat different view was expressed by the head of US intelligence Avril haines, who refuses to read as a sign of weakness Putin's self-limitation on remarks concerning the Donbass. For Haines, Russia would instead be preparing for a longer conflict, counting on the weakening of Western resolve when potential food and energy shortages begin to take their toll in the coming months. According to her, the long-term Russian strategy would target Odessa and Transnistria in the West (see LSDJ n ° 1577): the declaration of martial law/mobilization would remain likely, given that this objective is not achievable by the Russian army in its current state. We can therefore expect a lot of developments in Ukraine before the next VE Day within a year.

peter banister

source: LCI YouTube

This article is published from Selection of the day.

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