“Past greatness and weep narrating it”. This verse by Solomos perfectly condenses and captures the feeling left – by enemies and friends alike – by this year’s 9 May parade in Moscow’s Red Square before Mr Putin and other members of his regime. Why? Because what distinguished this year’s parade was its desperate poverty compared to last year’s parade and to all similar “majestic parades” of the last two decades!
by Yorgos Mitralias
In particular, while in the past foreign – Eastern and Western – leaders and other officials who attended the parade were crowded, this year they were counted on the fingers of one hand, and even impressed with their sour faces. The international isolation of Mr Putin’s Russia was more than evident, as were absent not only representatives of some formerly ‘neutral’ neighbouring countries that Mr Putin has pushed into the arms of the (reborn with his care) NATO, much to the dismay of anti-imperialists everywhere. But conspicuously absent were even most of the leaders of the hitherto very ‘friendly’ former Soviet republics of Eurasia.
But the poverty of the grandstand of foreign dignitaries was nothing compared to the poverty of the May 9 parade itself. Instead of the hundreds of tanks and other armoured and non-armoured vehicles of previous years, this year only… one tank, and that probably taken out of a military museum! And instead of dozens of missiles of all kinds, this year just two nuclear missiles. And, of course, no planes and far fewer infantrymen, while the famous “regiment of the immortals” march was “cancelled for security reasons”, presumably to avoid the possibility of intrusion by people who would not be holding pictures of their dead ancestors in World War II, but of their dead relatives in Mr. Putin’s ongoing “special military operation” in Ukraine. And all this in Moscow’s Red Square where the parade took place, unlike elsewhere, and more specifically in 9 regions (oblasts) of the Russian Federation, where – for the first time! – no parade took place, always for the famous… “security reasons”…
Of course, the causes of this unprecedented poverty of this year’s May 9th parade were obvious and did not escape the attention of the international media: Mr. Putin’s “special military operation” against Ukraine is, in every respect, turning out so badly for him and his regime that the poverty of this year’s 9 May parade is a mirror, an irrefutable witness and, at the same time, a direct consequence of its failure. Thus, the tanks and other weapons systems did not appear in Red Square this year because they simply did not exist and were not available as they are either in Ukraine and cannot be withdrawn from there, or they no longer exist as they have been neutralised by the Ukrainians. In other words, the poverty of this year’s parade is extremely eloquent and significant because it faithfully reflects the current deep crisis and “poverty” of the Russian army and arsenal !
So better than the fanciful “analyses” of the situation and the intentions of the belligerents, to which we have become accustomed by the more or less Putinist commentators of the Russo-Ukrainian war, it is the events themselves and the development of the war operations that help us to draw useful conclusions. Such as the undeniable fact that the military “bumpy ride” planned by the Kremlin to “denazify” Ukraine not only failed miserably but also gave way to a (defensive) war of positions, interrupted by two major Ukrainian successes: first with the ejection of the Russian army from Kharkiv and the surrounding area, and then with the recapture of Kherson, the only regional capital that the Russian invaders had managed to capture. (2) And also with the equally undeniable fact that the much-publicized “Russian counter-offensive” in Donbass, which began at the beginning of 2023, is marking time on the ground and has not achieved anything, while at the same time the siege of the city of Bakhmut, which has become a central military (and political) objective of the Kremlin, is hopelessly timed after 9-10 months of unsuccessful attempts (!), which have led to an unprecedented human massacre, with the main victims being the members of the private mercenary army Wagner, whose -oligarch and ex-convict)- owner Yevgeny Prigozhin recruited primarily inside Russian prisons.
All these are undeniable facts, just as it is undeniable that the “privatisation of war”, although it first appeared in the United States with the Blackwater mercenary organisation, has nowhere else in the world assumed the qualitative and quantitative dimensions that it has assumed in Mr Putin’s Russia. This is for two reasons: because in Russia it is no longer just about the notorious Wagner of Prigozhin, but also about at least 6-7 other private “armies” operating either in Ukraine or elsewhere, more or less dependent on and controlled by the Kremlin, the General Staff of the Army, certain regional governors or some oligarchs! And because, unlike what may be happening in the USA and other countries, these Russian private armies are not confined to their military “tasks” but are also practising politics both outside (e.g. in Africa and the Middle East) and inside Russia itself, where various “seignories” are beginning to form which de facto compete with the central power!
Thus, we see Mr Prigozhin constantly raising his voice to denounce – or rather to insult rudely- the pillars of the Russian State and the Putin regime, such as the Minister of Defence, the Chief of the Army and many of his chiefs of staff, even going so far as to accuse them of high treason and propose their execution! As if all this were not enough, Mr Prigozhin is opening offices of his newly-formed and already powerful political party almost everywhere in Russia, to confirm that, in addition to his business and military activities, he also has great political ambitions. In other words, all these private armies, and especially Mr Prigozhin’s Wagner, are a real … state within a state , destabilizing and fragmenting the Russian Federation and weakening its armed forces which they openly compete with or even substitute for! Conclusion: if only for this reason, Mr Putin’s Russia is doomed not only not to prevail on the battlefield but also to follow – unfortunately – an extremely dangerous course of gradual and possibly violent disintegration!…
In the year that has passed, so much has changed in Russia, but one thing has remained unchanged: the tradition that Mr Putin uses to call all the dead of the Soviet Union in the Second World War “Russians”, so that his Russia of today can usurp and not share with the other nations and nationalities of the Soviet Union the heroic anti-fascist struggle and the great victory of the USSR against the Third Reich. As we wrote such days a year ago: ” when Putin and his Great-Russian propaganda not only ignore the sacrifices of all these peoples, nations and nationalities, but even confiscate their sacrifices and deaths by attributing them to …. “Russians”, we no longer have a simple fraud, a simple lie, but something much worse, a real sacrilege! And the reason for this sacrilege is more than obvious. Having decreed that there is no Ukrainian nation, Putin obviously cannot admit that there were millions of Ukrainians who died fighting the Third Reich 80 years ago . And even more , it is inconceivable for him to accept that Ukrainian casualties were proportionally greater than the already appalling Russian losses. In fact , since he insists on declaring that Ukrainians are nothing but “Nazified” Russians, he ends up – quite “reasonably” in his irrationality – by russifying their World War II deaths as well. And all this while “ the percentage of dead Russians (12.7%) is lower than the average percentage of the entire Soviet Union (13.7%)! Moreover, the percentage of Ukraine is considerably higher (16.3%), which places it in second place in terms of human losses, after Belarus (25.3%), which paid the heaviest blood toll”… (3)
Unfortunately, this sacrilege mystification, which serves completely distinct political purposes, was perpetuated this year by the majority of the media, sometimes in good faith and sometimes in bad faith and on purpose. Our conclusion is therefore no different from last year’s, when we wrote that in Putin’s Russia “ we have to admit that the ghosts of the past are haunting the present as never before, when even the terrible blood toll paid by the Soviet population in its anti-fascist struggle is today the object of a well-orchestrated operation of falsification of history. Just to serve the propagandistic needs of the unscrupulous grave robber that is Mr. Putin!”. This Mr. Putin who dreamed of imperial greatness but is fatally leading his country and his compatriots to catastrophe…
1. Dionisios Solomos (1798-1857), great Greek poet, native of Zakynthos, author of the long poem “The hymn to freedom”, from which the verse quoted at the very beginning of the article is extracted. The hymn to freedom put in music became the Greek national anthem.
2. See also the article ” The disastrous state of the Russian army, a faithful reflection of the perversions of the dying Putinism”:
3. See the article ” Why does Putin make all the Soviet dead of the Second World War… “Russians?” :