May 9 is annually known as “Victory Day” in Russia to mark the 1945 victory over Nazi Germany. For the past two such holidays, the mood has obviously been different. Putin’s ongoing Ukraine war isn’t going the way he had hoped, and given that Russian troops have been abandoning tanks in Ukrainian cities, this has only added to the lack of available tanks to hold parades. As well, the leader (Yevgeny Prigozhin) of Putin’s privately-hired army, the Wagner Group, has been trashing Putin over an alleged refusal to supply ammo.
This actually might not be the worst omission, given that Russian troops are said to be resorting to aged ammo that carries the risk of “explod[ing] in your face.” Yet the ammo issue, along with Russia’s poor performance in the Putin-coveted city of Bakhmut, is giving Yevgeny Prigozhin more fodder to drag the Russian president. Before word of this latest verbal attack surfaced, however, CNN reported that Putin’s victory day speech was a self-pitying affair, in which he complained about “Russia being sinned against,” and only one lonely tank — an antiquated one — was there to make the former “superman” look manly:
There was only one tank: a T-34, a model made 89 years ago, before Putin was even born, raising the question of why they decided to include any tanks at all.
The level of hardware on display seemed thin: understandable perhaps for a military being mauled on a wide and relentless frontline. But again, it raises the enduring bind for the Kremlin.
They keep having to prove their strength, their might, yet have little actual might left to do it with. The exercise ends up being one of revealing weakness.
Back to the subject of the Wagner Group: mercenary leader Prigozhin slammed Putin as a “complete a**hole” and “happy grandpa,” via The Daily Beast, which details a 30-minute verbal lashing that included Prigozhin declaring Russian military leaders (rather than Ukraine) to be the “main enemy” of his soldiers. He continued to poke fun at Russian troops for their tendency to “run” away on the Ukrainian battlefield, and he declared that now was not the time for Putin to be marking any type of Victory Day. Oh boy.