Russian Victory Day Fused Celebration of Nazis’ Defeat With Call for New Multipolar World Order

Ilya Tsukanov, Sputnik, May 9, 2024 ─ 

The people of Russia and other former Soviet republics celebrated the sacred holiday of Victory Day on Thursday, complete with parades in major Russian cities and other solemn commemorations. Taking place against the backdrop of NATO’s ongoing proxy war against Russia in Ukraine, this year’s festivities bore a special significance, analysts say.

“We celebrate Victory Day in the context of the special military operation. All its members, those on the front line, along the line of contact, are our heroes,” President Vladimir Putin said in a speech on Red Square in Moscow before columns of assembled troops and honored guests before the start of the parade dedicated to the 79th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.

The Moscow parade was by far the largest in the country, with over 9,000 troops and 70 military vehicles taking part, but similar events took place across Russia, from Kamchatka in the Far East to Kaliningrad in the west. Troops from the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka garrison were already up and marching as Kaliningrad residents remained fast asleep, with the 10-hour difference between the territories highlighting Russia’s vast size. Overall, some 150,000 people and 2,500 pieces of military equipment paraded or held other Victory Day festivities to commemorate the common historical memory of the USSR’s titanic struggle against Nazi Germany, its allies and the combined military and economic might of Nazi-occupied wartime Europe.

“Today, we bow our heads before the blessed memory of all those who had their life taken by the Great Patriotic War,” Putin said during his speech, giving credence to the phrase known by all Russians that Victory Day is ‘a holiday with tears in on one’s eyes’, due to the immense sacrifices and unprecedented barbarity of the Nazi invasion and the unparalleled scale of the campaign to beat them back to Berlin.

“We honor our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers. They defended their native land and crushed Nazism, liberated the peoples of Europe, and reached the heights of military and labor valor,” Putin said.

Unfortunately, the Russian president added, part of the world today is witnessing efforts to rewrite history, “distort the truth about World War II,” forget the war’s lessons, and the sacrifices made by the Soviet people, soldiers and partisans of the anti-Hitler coalition and those who fought Japanese militarism.

“This truth interferes with those who are accustomed to basing their essentially colonial policy on hypocrisy and lies. They demolish memorials to the true fighters against Nazism, put traitors and accomplices of the Nazis on pedestals, cross out the memory of the heroism and honor of the soldier-liberators and the great sacrifice they made in the name of life,” Putin said, in a not-so-subtle reference to efforts in Ukraine and other countries to tear down monuments to the Red Army and replace them with collaborators such as Stephan Bandera.

“Revanchism, the mockery of history, the desire to justify the modern followers of the Nazis are part of a general policy of Western elites to incite more and more regional conflicts, interethnic and interreligious hostility, and to restrain sovereign, independent centers of global development,” Putin said, stressing that Russia fundamentally rejects “claims of any state or alliance to exclusivity.”

“We know where the exorbitance of such ambitions leads. Russia will do everything in its power to prevent a global collision, but at the same time, we will not allow anyone to threaten us. Our strategic forces are always in a state of combat readiness,” Putin warned, referencing the recent NATO buildup on Russia’s borders, and threats by individual bloc countries to send troops to fight Russia in Ukraine.

‘Those who fail to learn from history…’

“Putin in his speech mentioned specifically the importance of remembering history and warned against the danger of those attempting to now rewrite that history,” veteran geopolitical analyst and former US Marine Brian Berletic told Sputnik, commenting on the special significance of the Russian president’s words in light of the uncertain situation in the world today.

“As the saying goes, ‘those who fail to learn from history are bound to repeat it’. In this case, the collective West is rewriting history to deliberately repeat it,” Berletic warned, arguing that the Ukrainian conflict “is a continuation of the same sort of supremacist mentality that triggered World War 2 and the invasion of the Soviet Union.”

“The so-called US-led international order is predicated on Washington’s primacy over the globe and its assumption of impunity to do as it pleases wherever it pleases. It allows itself to uphold ‘national security concerns’ on the other side of the planet, while denying other nations the ability to uphold national security concerns right along or even within their own borders,” the former soldier said.

The result of US elites’ vision of their country as an ‘exclusive’ or ‘exceptional’ nation in world affairs has created a “lopsided global balance of power,” in Berletic’s estimation, unleashing and fueling chaos and conflicts around the world, including on Russia’s borders.

However, today, “the economic, military, and technological edge the US has depended on for decades to maintain this lopsided balance of power has eroded, and thus nations like Russia are able to tilt the scales back in favor of global fairness,” he stressed.

“While Western propaganda supports rearmament out of fear that Russia could trigger a conflict, even a nuclear one, President Putin emphasized the Russian military power as ‘deterrence’ against such claims,” Dr. Marco Marsili, a researcher at the Cà Foscari University of Venice and the Catholic University of Portugal, told Sputnik, highlighting what struck him about Thursday’s Red Square speech.

“While some Western leaders are fanning the flames, President Putin has sent a clear message: stay calm, don’t escalate the conflict, or we will be forced to react to defend ourselves,” Marsili said, referring to the dangerous political and military game being played in Ukraine today.

The Russian president’s comments about the dangers of Nazism returning to rear its ugly head are also vital, the Italian observer said, charactering Putin’s speech as a celebration of the heroes “who fought against the Nazis in World War II to liberate the Motherland and Europe from this criminal scum.”

“We must not let our guard down, precisely because the danger of the return of extremism is more present today than in the recent past,” Marsili urged, pointing to the rise of ultra-right movements and ultra-nationalist ideologies across much of Europe. “Any pro-Nazi attitude must be contrasted, and international cooperation is the only way to ensure a peaceful and prosperous future for mankind. Otherwise, we will be forced to live in a regime of fear and isolation for a long time.”

Clear message to the west

The military parade on Red Square sent an important message “that the West shouldn’t interfere in matters that Putin considers primarily Russian,” Alexander Hill, a professor of military history at the University of Calgary in Canada, told Sputnik.

“Obviously these parades have always been sending a reminder to the West about Russian and Soviet military strength. Today I thought it was quite significant that Yars ICBMs were fairly prominent in the parade as well as the Iskander-M missiles,” Hill said. The latter has proven “very effective” through the course of the conflict in Ukraine, the professor noted, adding that he hopes that the former “will never be used.”

“The parade was obviously very symbolic. President Putin made a lot of links between the past and the present,” the Canadian academic said. “He talked a lot about being against ‘Western exceptionalism’ and, of course, noted Western hypocrisy, although I thought it was a nice touch, actually, that he said quite recently that he’s leaving the door open to negotiations as long as Russia is treated as an equal.”


Ilya Tsukanov is a Moscow-based correspondent specializing in Eastern European, US and Middle Eastern politics, Cold War history, energy security and military affairs. Member of the Sputnik team since the site’s inception in 2014. Opposed to censorship of all kinds.

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