Experts: Putin's speech was full of cliches

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MP Marko Mihkelson (Reform).
MP Marko Mihkelson (Reform). Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Commenting on Vladimir Putin's speech during the annual May 9 parade, Marko Mihkelson, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, said it was full of cliches and nothing new was proposed. According to security expert Rainer Saks, we may still hear proposals from Putin in the coming days, if at all.

"Putin's speech was full of cliches, nothing new. In fact, as expected, reasons were given for why Russia is at war. We also learned that Russia is at war not only with Ukraine but with the whole Western world and that the West threatens Russia by being ready to attack historically Russian regions," Mihkelson (Reform) commented.

The MP said this speaks to the fact that both Putin himself, and Russia under his leadership, live in a parallel world, and this constitutes a threat to other countries, and also to Estonia as well. "The reality that Putin highlights is not in line with what is actually happening," Mihkelson said.

"While it was expected that Putin's speech would bring new calls for military mobilization, the parade is certainly not the place to do so. But we really have to keep in mind the fact that he is in conflict with the whole Western world," said Mihkelson.

Saks: I didn't even expect any new statements

According to security expert Rainer Saks, this year's atmosphere at the Victory Day military parade in Moscow was different than usual due to the war in Ukraine, and this also left its marks on Putin's speech.

"Soldiers were reminded of the special operation and were called upon to continue fighting. Also, a political framework was given – preventing the Donbas region, but not the rest of Ukraine, from turning towards an alien set of beliefs. Putin also restated succinctly and with better clarity the narrative which hasn't been as visible before, namely, that the attack on Ukraine was a pre-emptive strike to prevent the possibility of NATO advancing on Russia from this region," said Saks.

But these details are not of much importance, he added.

Just like Mihkelson, Saks said he did not expect new initiatives from Putin's speech, since the Victory Day parade is not a suitable occasion to do so. "Should there be new initiatives or openings, they could be made public in the coming days, if at all," he said.

According to Saks, the announcement of general mobilization is very unlikely, because it is a measure for which Russia is not prepared and which it could not effectively use at the moment.

"It would be conceivable if Russia was engaged in a global war and had to prepare itself for a long-term major conflict. Declaring now a war on Ukraine would be nonsense, as it has already invaded Ukraine and the official declaration of war would not add anything. Ukraine is not afraid of it, as it is also not afraid of Russia's general mobilization," said Saks.

For Russia, according to Saks, the bigger question is whether it is able to quickly draw upon additional reserves to continue this war, or whether it should think about a truce. "Russia is carrying out a covert mobilization continuously, but it has simply not succeeded," said Saks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Russia's invasion of Ukraine was necessary because Western countries were threatening Russian territory. In his speech, Putin claimed that Russian soldiers were currently fighting for Russia's security in Ukraine.

Tüür: Canceling the air force flyover was strange

According to political scientist Karmo Tüür, the parade vividly demonstrated a change in the Russian leadership. If earlier representatives of Russia's allies attended the parade, now Russia stands alone. "Not even a Belarusian representative was seen there," Tüür said.

"I have predicted that the Russian leader could not declare a war on Ukraine, because, in his world, Ukraine did not exist. If he would have done so, he would have said by that that Ukraine is as sovereign as Russia, but he could not do that," Tüür explained.

Furthermore, he noted that canceling a Victory Day flyover by the air force was somewhat strange. "It was left out in other Russian cities as well. The cancellation was explained by poor weather conditions, although the weather in some regions was clear. It is speculated that there might be an air defense device active somewhere, which could bring something down, and that would be ugly," Tüür said.

For the last 10 years, the May 9 holiday in Russia has been a war holiday, not a peaceful holiday, he said.

"There are memes circulating around the people in Russia, which say "we can repeat it", we can subdue Europe again and organize something there. We are thinking of a kindergarten teacher who has dressed children up in uniforms and tanks. This is not a message of peace," Tüür said.

Tüür also spoke about the narrative created by Russia, that Russian society is at war with the rest of the world, which wants to cause Russia harm. "It's an assured manifestation of the spirit of war," he said.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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