Putin's 'Victory Day' Speech Long On Bullsh*t, Short On Victory
"Victory Day," the May 9 Russian national holiday marking Nazi Germany's surrender in World War II, is a far bigger deal in Russia than VE Day (May 8) is in the USA, and it's not only because it's celebrated on a different day due to the time difference. It's like Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and an itty little bit of Independence Day wrapped up together, plus of course all the fascist nationalism that Vladimir Putin can spin on top of it, too. A lot of Western analysts were expecting Putin to use the holiday as an excuse to announce an expansion of his "special military operation" against Ukraine;. Some even predicted he might formally declare war against Ukraine, while others suggested he might declare victory in the eastern parts of Ukraine that he said were really Russian, even though Ukraine is still very much resisting.
Instead, Putin claimed the war (but don't call it that!) was absolutely necessary for Russia's survival, because he thinks Ukraine is full of "Nazis" (it is not) and the USA and NATO were planning to invade Russia through Ukraine maybe (they are also not), and now the US and NATO haven't done that, thanks to Putin's strategic brilliance, hooray, as CNBC explains:
Putin claimed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had been necessary because the West was “preparing for the invasion of our land, including Crimea,” according to comments translated by Reuters.
It’s unclear whether Putin was referring to Russia, or territory that Moscow considers to be Russian. This includes Crimea, which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and the eastern Donbas region, where Donetsk and Luhansk — two pro-Russian self-proclaimed “republics” — are located.
Putin then presumably held a banana to his ear and insisted it kept him safe from tiger attacks.
In his speech, Putin explicitly compared Russia's invasion of Ukraine to the fight against Germany 76 years ago, telling Russian troops that they're "fighting for the motherland, for its future, so that no one forgets the lessons of World War II.” Silly us, we thought the lesson of WW II was that the world should be wary of nationalist megalomaniacs bent on expanding their territory. That, and "loose lips sink ships."
And despite increased Russian attacks in eastern Ukraine, including the nearly total destruction of the port city Mariupol, Putin also didn't use the speech to brag about how wonderfully the "special military operation" is going. No "Mission Accomplished" banner behind him, like, not even in Russian.
A New York Times analysis of the speech noted that instead of doubling down or declaring victory, Putin
remains cautious about demanding too much from regular Russians. The only policy announcement Mr. Putin made in his speech, in fact, was aimed at assuaging the pain directly caused by the war — a decree to provide additional aid to the children of killed and wounded soldiers.
Not that he would say exactly how many such children would need the aid. Maybe people would think it was only 20 or 30.
For his part, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said if anyone's acting like the Nazis, it would be Putin, who is "repeating the horrific crimes of Hitler’s regime today.”
“On the day of victory over Nazism, we are fighting for a new victory,” Mr. Zelensky said as he was shown walking alone through the streets of Kyiv, past government buildings protected with barriers and barbed wire.
Here's video, with English subtitles:
President of #Ukraine @ZelenskyyUa: \u201cWe won then. We will win now, too! And Khreshchatyk will see the parade of victory \u2013 the victory of Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine!\u201dpic.twitter.com/339L7s6Faz— MFA of Ukraine \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6 (@MFA of Ukraine \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\udde6) 1652077845
Also too, as Rachel Maddow noted on her MSNBC show last night, Russians scrolling through the program schedule on smart TVs were greeted with a surprise: Hackers had altered the menus to display the message "You have the blood of thousands of Ukrainians and hundreds of dead children on your hands. The TV and the authorities are lying. No to war." Reuters notes the messages appeared just before the Victory Day parade in Moscow.
In addition, the pro-Kremlin News site Lenta was defaced by two of its own employees, who filled the homepage with headlines like "Vladimir Putin has turned into a pitiful dictator and paranoiac,” “War makes it easier to cover up economic failures,” and (our favorite) “Zelensky turned out to be cooler than Putin.” Gizmodo reports that the two rogue journalists
reportedly told the Latvian-based independent news site Meduza they had re-located outside of Russia and worried they may need new jobs or even political asylum.
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