Putin, Stalin and the Ever-Changing Meanings of Victory Day

At precisely 10 a.m. Moscow time Monday, thousands of Russian soldiers and sailors will have begun to parade into Red Square to mark the vitctory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany.

The commemoration is meant to echo one overseen by Josef Stalin that was held in the summer of 1945, to celebrate the Nazi surrender that May. Today’s celebration of a grueling conflict against a powerful war machine is instead being held during Russia’s invasion against a much smaller and weaker neighbor – the conflict, now more than two months long, that was supposed to have been over in a few days.

It is likely that Vladimir Putin, the current Russian leader, will use the occasion to rally his citizens and to blame the invasion’s slow pace on Western powers that have armed the Ukrainians. He may suggest Russia will intensify its damaging offensive. William Burns, the United States director of the Central Intelligence Agency, expects Russia to step up its assaults. “I think Putin has staked a lot on this second phase of what is an incredibly ugly and brutal offensive against the Ukrainians,” Burns told CBS News.

Daniel Williams

Published by Daniel Williams

I am a former correspondent who, for more than 30 years, did time in China, Southeast Asia, Central America, Mexico, the Middle East, Europe and Africa and covered wars that went from episodic to non-stop. My book, "Forsaken," about Christian persecution in the Middle East came out January, 2016. NextWarNotes is a news and analysis blog designed to fill gaps, provide background and think about what’s next. The name of the site comes from a 1935 article by Ernest Hemingway in Esquire Magazine called “Notes on the Next War,” in which he predicted the coming conflagration in Europe, told why it would happen and warned Americans to stay out.

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