A colossal parade and a show of military might on Red Square, Russia s Victory Day on May 9, a holiday marking the Soviet Union's vanquishing of Nazi Germany has taken a particular resonance this year with Russia mired in a war in Ukraine. The holiday will take place as Russian state television broadcasts bellicose messages about supposed Nazis in Ukraine, and as the Kremlin leads a stumbling, grinding offensive that has cost thousands of Russians and Ukrainians their lives. Because Russia's invasion has failed to produce much in the way of victories, analysts fear that President Vladimir V. Putin will use the occasion to turn a military operation into an all-out war and mobilize Russians for a more broad-ranging conflict. The Kremlin, for its part, denied on Wednesday that it would declare war.
In years past, Mr. Putin used May 9, a near-sacred holiday for Russians to remember the 27 million Soviets who died in World War II, to mobilize the nation for a new battle ahead. When he spoke to the nation from his rostrum at Red Square on May 9, last year he warned that Russia's enemies were deploying much of the ideology of the Nazis. Russian state media is referring to Ukrainians who have resisted the Russian invasion as Nazis, and portraying the fight as the unfinished business of World War II. It seems almost certain that Putin will use his May 9 speech next week to invoke the heroism of Soviet soldiers in World War II to inspire Russians to make new sacrifices. The narratives that Mr. Putin has been spinning to justify his war in Ukraine are in line with the grand, nostalgic narratives of Victory Day. Analysts who follow Russia closely say that it is not certain that Mr. Putin will declare an official state of war and announce mass mobilization, which could result in a military draft and a prohibition on Russian men of military age being allowed to leave the country. A new travel restrictions or travel restrictions could cause a blowback, despite the sacrifices of World War II in Russia. Russian forces have suffered heavy losses in Ukraine - Western officials estimate that more than 7,000 Russian soldiers have been killed - and some families of service members question the official silence about the scope of the losses. What happens on Victory Day?