On May 9 in Russia, the end of World War II was celebrated – the “Great Patriotic War” first of the Soviets and then of the Russians – the day on which the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany to Marshal Chukov was signed in Berlin in 1945. This date acquired great significance in Putinist Russia Overshadowed by the other symbolic date of the great parades in Red Square, November 7, the anniversary of the October Revolution.
Although Putin has increasingly distanced himself from Bolshevism, for example by repudiating its ethos of federalism that recognized the legitimacy of a Ukrainian state and embracing instead the Tsarist imperialist vision of Ukraine as a Russian “zone,” he did not maintain some. Icons, such as the speech of the Russian – almost divine – mission against Nazism and the military power of the Red Army. The speech was used to justify the invasion of Ukraine with the aim of “discrediting” it, even when it was clear that although there were extreme right-wing parties and movements in Ukraine, the goal had no real meaning, even because these parties and movements are not very representative, and they are in any case Much lower than in many other European countries.
This year, May 9, with the military parade on Red Square, acquired special significance and analysts formulated several hypotheses about what Putin will do on that symbolic occasion. It is quite clear that Putin would have liked to arrive at Red Square on Monday to present himself a “mission accomplished” by Bush, but his initial plans for a quick surrender to Ukraine have failed, and so on May 9 he will not be able to do so. Celebrating the end of the special military operation, as he calls it. What will he do next? Analysts are divided on two hypotheses.
The first hypothesis: general mobilization and large-scale “war”
The first, also based on British intelligence reports, says that on May 9, the Russian president will use the emotional wave of celebrations to launch a general mobilization against “Nazis”, even using Ukrainian attacks on Russian soil as a pretext. . , both real and simulated, and perhaps even for this reason, officially declaring war on Ukraine. The motivation for this exciting decision derives from the situation on the ground. Although a month after the war, on March 26, Russia announced that it would concentrate only on the Donbass by withdrawing from the north and Kiev, the following month it was not able to make significant progress even in the southeast. Analysts believe that from 120-130 BTGs (tactical battalion) initially arranged on the four lines, after defeats, withdrawal and reorganization of those in the north. 90 battalions on a front of 900 km. Russia commits more than 60% of its operational combat military forces to Ukraine, but this is not enough. The Russian army has lost in Kherson, and in Kharkiv it has been pushed back 20 km towards the Russian border and in the last few hours the Ukrainians are also advancing towards the strategic center of Izyum. Certainly Mariupol’s arduous defense of resources and energies important to the Russian advance, remembering in large part the sacrifice of 300 Spartans at Thermopylae which delayed the Persian advance.
So, if Putin wants to occupy all of Donbass and also preserve the corridor with Crimea and beyond, up to Kherson, where the ruble was introduced and the independence “referendum” was planned, he absolutely needed new resources and, above all, new ones. To be able to go on for months in this war: hence the need for general mobilization, and martial law to quell any internal revolts against conscription.
The second hypothesis: an imaginary victory
A second hypothesis, supported by an example Dmitriy Alperovich, is that May 9 will not be used by Putin as an opportunity for further escalation instead of declaring a fictitious victory, to be sold internally thanks to the control of propaganda. The “de-Nazification” of Ukraine, which was initially aimed at overthrowing the Kyiv government, can be summed up in the defeat of the Azov regiment in Mariupel, i.e. “Disarmament”, that is, the transformation of Ukraine into a neutral state without a large army, can be seen as the destruction of factories, infrastructures and ” Protection of Russian speakers from genocide” by the conquest of Donbass (it has not yet been completed, however, so much so that the rallies scheduled for May 9 in Donetsk and Lugansk were canceled) and the corridor with the Crimea. On the other hand, Putin’s goals have never been clear and obvious, and thus are malleable and resellable in various forms for Russian public opinion, separated by years of propaganda and media control. According to these analysts, a general mobilization and an escalation of the conflict would be very risky for Putin because he would risk an even more serious defeat should he fail anyway, so it is best to settle for half a victory because it can be resold as a complete success.
The third way: Recession also on May 9
To these two assumptions was added a third, middle ground: on May 9 nothing special will be announced, and Russian operations in Ukraine will continue with friction war at the front and firing missiles from afar, until it happens on the ground. It doesn’t change dramatically, either because of the sudden Ukrainian meltdown or the Russian backsliding, or until Putin decides to really sit at the negotiating table and gather as much as possible. To understand which of these hypotheses can prevail, we must try to position ourselves from the point of view of the Moscow system.
The spirit of Putinism
I identify two spirits in Putinism: the ideological spirit of Putin and his circle, who dream, and dream at this point, of the rebirth of Russia as a respected and feared “Eurasian” power in the world, and the power of the corrupt, the oligarchs who got rich with the failed privatization of Boris Elsin, who thinks only of his personal origins And he enjoys the fruits of thefts in the luxurious and hated West – on paper -.
The two souls live, or live at least until February 24, in perfect coexistence. When Putin and his “siloviki”, that is, ex-service officials and ex-militaries, took power, they made a very clear agreement with the oligarchy: keep stealing and doing business but you have to stay out of politics, we’re not going to get into your business as long as they support the regime. Khodorkovsky, the richest member of the oligarch at the time, tried to rebel but was punished with the confiscation of his ownership of the yukos and imprisonment for 10 years, until he was sent into exile abroad. “Hit one to teach a hundred,” it was and the others understood. But the two souls, who often overlap, have been somewhat in love and in agreement for 20 years and may, if the ‘special military operation’ lasts two weeks, with a new Ukrainian puppet government and limited Western sanctions, will do so for another 20 years. But things went very differently from the start and Russia fell into unprecedented isolation. Today, therefore, the kleptocratic soul necessarily needs a way out if it wants to hope one day to review its yachts for the hundreds of millions of euros that have been seized or, in the case of the ‘middle class’, to go on vacation in the Cote d’Azur and in Sardinia and pay by credit card. On the other hand, the ideological spirit has thrown the ball too far and it is now difficult to pull the handbrake. In order to gain the support of the population, the propaganda paid a lot and we see it by watching Russian television, where they continue to talk about the holy war against the West, nuclear attacks, and even the rupture of Ukraine with Poland and wherever it is sacred. The mission against the West is so perceptible that it is in an “unlikely state of nuclear holocaust,” as they say, “Russians will go to heaven anyway“Because I’m on the right side.
In my opinion, even if it is not clear now, these two spirits, the ideological and the kleptocratic, will soon collide. On the one hand, Putin wants to wage war according to his primary goals, and on the other hand, this means pushing Russia into the abyss with all-out war. While it is true that economic sanctions and international isolation have historically hardly led to regime change, it is also true that Russia, unlike Saddam’s Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, etc. It did not start from a state of isolation, but rather was firmly integrated into the international system in terms of industrial, economic, financial and other aspects. Suffice it to say that Putin’s daughters, Foreign Minister Lavrov, Spokesman Peskov, all have studies in Western universities and expensive homes in Paris and London, even Peskov’s daughter has an internship in the European Parliament of a French deputy. . Today they are all under sanctions. Will all these few be able to accept living in a closed and self-sufficient country?
Whatever the case, Putin’s military adventure that began on February 24 represents a long-term strategic defeat for Russia. If Putin says he unleashed all this for Russia’s security, for its ‘living space’, recalling Hitler’s obsession, no one actually makes Russia weak and vulnerable like Putin himself. He wanted Ukraine out of NATO and “demilitarized”, when the continuation of the war instead led to the West supplying Ukraine with heavy weapons (tanks, artillery), and now standard weapons of NATO, which replace the Soviet weapons that Ukraine had until February 24. It is possible that Finland and Sweden will join NATO, and so Russia will really find it on the border. Then the traditional Russian army proved incapable, ineffective, and its technology outdated. The sinking of the main ship in the Black Sea, the cruiser “Mosvka”, is just a striking example. Russia has lost its traditional military deterrent.
Meanwhile, Putin also removed from his sphere of influence those countries that, in one way or another, have always been attracted in his orbit, such as Moldova and Georgia, which applied to join the European Union as a result of the invasion of Ukraine. While Kazakhstan, Moscow’s closest ally after Belarus, said that Ukraine’s territorial integrity must be preserved, so did Uzbekistan. And even Lukashenka, in a recent interview with The Associated Press He appears to have wanted to distance himself from Putin by saying that this war was “too long”, describing it as a “war” rather than a “special military operation”, and that he was in favor of negotiation.
Then, when Europe finally diversifies its gas and oil supplies, Russia, already battered by sanctions, will enter a terrible recession that will set it back for decades and it will take years before it can reorient it. Same to other markets. In conclusion, Ukrainian President Zelensky on May 6 during his speech at Chatman House in London, speaking of the much-evoked negotiations in Italy, again hinted clearly at the possibility – for the time being – to abandon the return of Crimea and return to February 23. Could it be a hand outstretched to Putin, an offer to the director, on May 9? What will prevent Moscow from the ideological insanity shown on Russian television or the opportunism of the corrupt?