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.