Security analyst Rainer Saks described Russian President Vladimir Putin's May 9 parade speech as relatively sapless and an attempt to prepare the Russian public for changes the war in Ukraine might bring. The military parade served its main function – to show the people that the Russian army exists.
"I would say that the speech was very languid, neither energetic nor forceful. It was excusatory rather than obtrusive, as it has sometimes been," Saks told ERR.
He suggested the speech might have been affected by Russia's failure to reach a new level of escalation in its war with Ukraine.
"He was simply reiterating talking points, trying to perpetuate the main narrative Russia has pursued," Saks said. "These are very personal points for Putin, which he has emphasized also in past years The most important among them is that the second Maidan in 2013-2014 constituted a coup. That Russia is trying to somehow fix this and it is all organized by the West. That is the grand narrative," the analyst said.
"In this, it is once again repeated that the West is attacking Russia. But here is where things get confusing in that Russian soldiers – and this was said in no uncertain terms – are defending their homeland and that there is war," Saks said. "It may be a small step toward preparing people for future steps the Russian government might be forced to take because of the war. That is the shift, because it was no slip of the tongue. They are trying to highlight that the Russian army is defending the homeland there."
Putin also emphasized that it is necessary to pray for Russian soldiers and that there have been casualties in Ukraine, Saks pointed out. "It is one way to prepare [the population] for new potential mobilizations and motivate society to continue the war."
Talking of the May 9 military parade in Moscow, Saks said that while Russia did not demonstrate its military aircraft, tanks or tracked IFVs, the message of the army's continued existence was conveyed.
"Naturally, it was held in a more modest format than previously. But that is a matter of taste – the impression that Russia still has an army was left. It mattered a great deal to people in Russia in that sense," Saks suggested. "The marching squares (of soldiers in uniform – ed.) were there and it ticked the box. But, of course, it was a far cry from the grand parades of back in the day," he said.
Editor: Marcus Turovski