The UK has predicted that Vladimir Putin will use Russia’s victory day parade on May 9 to announced the mass mobilisation of his population for a final push in Ukraine.
Speaking on Friday, Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said that the Russian president might declare a new war against the world’s ‘Nazis’ at the parade which sees Moscow mark the end of Russia’s involvement in the Second World War.
Putin launched his illegal invasion of Ukraine on February 24, calling it a ‘special military operation’ to ‘de-nazify’ Russia’s neighbour – despite its president Volodymyr Zelensky being Jewish, and the far-right enjoying little support in the country.
With Putin’s military having failed in their first wave of military objectives, Moscow has re-focused its efforts on seizing both the east and southern coast of Ukraine.
However, as in the first months of the invasion, Russian forces are being met with heavy Ukrainian resistance from Kyiv’s determined armies.
Some analysts had predicted that Putin wanted to be in a position where he could declare some form of victory on May 9. But with Russia’s victory day parade now less than two weeks away, that is looking less likely.
Instead, Mr Wallace told LBC Radio that Putin could instead use the occasion to declare a new war on who he would call the world’s Nazis to galvanise his populace in another push against the Ukrainian defenders.
Russian military vehicles move along Tverskaya street during the rehearsal of Victory Day military parade marking the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, at Red Square in Moscow, Russia on April 28, 2022
Speaking on Friday, Britain’s Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said that the Russian president might use the parade on May 9 declare a new war against the world’s ‘Nazis’ at the parade which sees Moscow mark the end of Russia’s involvement in the Second World War
‘I would not be surprised… that he is probably going to declare on May Day that “we are now at war with the world’s Nazis and we need to mass mobilise the Russian people”,’ Mr Wallace said on Friday morning.
“Putin, having failed in nearly all objectives, may seek to consolidate what he’s got… and just be a sort of cancerous growth within the country,’ he continued.
‘We have to help Ukrainians effectively get the limpet off the rock and keep the momentum pushing them back.’
Mr Wallace said that while he had no intelligence saying that Putin was planning such an announcement, it was likely given his previous comments.
‘We have seen a number of statements from Putin about this becoming a war, “this is a proxy war” – which it isn’t – and “Nazis are everywhere”, basically, “they are not just in Ukraine, NATO is full of Nazis’.
‘I think he will try to move from his “special operation”,’ Mr Wallace told LBC. ‘He’s been rolling the pitch, laying the ground for being able to say “look, this is now a war against Nazis, and what I need is more people. I need more Russian cannon fodder”.’
Mr Wallace said that Putin’s commanders have led many soldiers to their deaths in the war. Kyiv estimates that number to be as high as 23,000.
The Defence Secretary criticised the Kremlin’s ‘pathetic attempts’ to cover up its losses, and added that for Russia to order a mass-mobilisation of its reserves would be an ‘admission of failure’.
Russian serviceman carries a flag before a rehearsal for the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia April 28, 2022
With Putin’s military having failed in their first wave of military objectives, Moscow has re-focused its efforts on seizing both the east and southern coast of Ukraine
Mr Wallace’s comments came as the UK government said on Friday that it was deploying about 8,000 troops for exercises across eastern Europe in a show of strength after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The months-long drills in countries stretching from Finland to North Macedonia also involve allies including France and the United States, defence officials said in a statement.
Britain is deploying 72 Challenger 2 tanks and 120 armoured fighting vehicles along with artillery guns, helicopters and drones for the exercises, some of which are already underway.
‘The security of Europe has never been more important,’ Mr Wallace said, calling it ‘one of the largest shared deployments since the Cold War’.
The officer in command, Lieutenant General Ralph Wooddisse, said Britain was making ‘a significant contribution to the defence of Europe and the deterrence of Russian aggression’.
‘The British Army’s series of exercises is fundamental to both.’
Britain has been supplying missiles to Ukraine to fight back against Russia, and says it is ready to help with tanks and planes via partners such as Poland.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Wednesday that ‘the whole of Ukraine’ must be liberated, including Crimea, after the peninsula was seized by Russia in 2014.