Victory Day celebrations in Russia amidst ongoing conflict in Ukraine

Photo Courtesy of Bangkok Post

As Russia’s troops continue their campaign in Ukraine and the country experiences sabotage attacks at home, Russians have recently celebrated the wartime Victory Day with hopes for success on the modern battlefield. President Vladimir Putin frequently links the ongoing conflict in Ukraine to the Soviet fight against Nazi Germany 80 years ago, a narrative widely accepted by many Russians due to the effective ban on criticism of the campaign.

At the entrance to Moscow’s iconic Gorky Park, people were taking selfies near towering symbols of Russia’s forces in Ukraine, accompanied by patriotic music from nearby speakers. Roman Gulydov, 46 years old, who works in aviation, felt that the current conflict in Ukraine was a continuation of World War II. He added that he would fight in Ukraine if necessary. Gulydov also expressed his concern about the recent wave of attacks in Russia, which included a reported drone attack on the Kremlin and a car bomb targeting a nationalist writer.

Close by, a beauty salon worker who came to mark the holiday with her 104-year-old grandmother, a war veteran, expressed confidence in the authorities’ ability to maintain security within Russia. She said, “We will not let anything happen. Everything will be fine.”

Due to security concerns, Russia cancelled a central Victory Day event, known as the “Immortal Regiment”, in which thousands of people holding portraits of their relatives who fought against the Nazis march through Moscow. However, Giya Merkeliya, a 55 year old driver, still brought a photograph of his grandfather, who was killed in action in 1943, to the park.

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Meanwhile, Putin made a speech on Red Square stating that Russia’s future relied on its soldiers at the front and that the whole country was praying for them. Authorities reported that around 500 soldiers from the Ukraine campaign participated in the main military parade.

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has lasted far longer than many anticipated, with most in Russia believing in a rapid victory for the Kremlin last year.

In Yekaterinburg, located 1,800 kilometres east of Moscow, people gathered to watch a smaller military parade in a region known for sending a significant number of men to fight in Ukraine. Svetlana Trenikhina, a university worker, mentioned that watching Victory Day military parades always filled her with pride. However, she added that now, people also feel a “new emotion and faith in victory, in a new victory. We all hope and believe that there will be a victory.”

Many in the city share the belief that those fighting in Ukraine are the modern equivalent of the Red Army battling fascism. Yulia Stavrova, a teacher, explained, “We must liberate the countries of Europe, the whole world, from this fascist plague. Today, the words ‘victory, everything for the front’ are more relevant than ever.”

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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