Putin was expected to make a big announcement about the Ukraine war in his Victory Day speech.
Some thought he would formally declare war or announce Russia was victorious, but he did neither.
“President Putin has recognized he has no victory to celebrate,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told CNN on Monday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was widely expected to make a major announcement about the Ukraine war in his Victory Day speech on Monday, but he ultimately offered no signs of a shift in strategy and primarily stuck to pushing the same baseless propaganda on the conflict that the Kremlin has disseminated for months.
Western officials and experts speculated that Putin would formally declare war on Ukraine or even declare victory on some level. But Putin did neither, instead reiterating Moscow’s dubious justifications for the war and pushing the false narrative that the West, NATO, and Kyiv left Russia with no choice but to launch a “preemptive” invasion.
“President Putin has recognized he has no victory to celebrate,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told CNN on Monday. “He was not able to go into Ukraine and bring them to their knees in a few days and have them surrender,” she added.
Russia has struggled to make significant gains in the war thus far, and is estimated to have lost up to 15,000 troops since the conflict began on February 24. After failing to take Kyiv, the Russian military has shifted its attention to the eastern Donbas region.
Victory Day, celebrated annually on May 9 in Russia, commemorates the defeat of Nazi Germany. Putin during his speech portrayed Russia as a force for good in the world, once again falsely claiming Russian troops were fighting neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
“You are fighting for our Motherland, its future, so that nobody forgets the lessons of World War II, so that there is no place in the world for torturers, death squads and Nazis,” Putin said in a message to Russian troops in Ukraine, adding, “You are defending today what your fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers fought for.”
The Russian military, which has ruthlessly targeted civilian areas since invading in late February, has been widely accused of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Though Putin has claimed the so-called “special operation” in Ukraine was launched to protect ethnic Russians, the war has hit Russian-speaking areas especially hard while causing suffering across the country. Over 5.8 million Ukrainians have fled since the war began, per the UN refugee agency.
While Putin on Monday did not signal any plans to ramp up the war in substantial ways, he also offered no signs Russia will move to end the invasion in the near future.
Much of the world has united against Moscow over the war, slapping unprecedented sanctions on Russia and voting to condemn it in the UN.
In one of the latest signs of the global outrage over the war, Russia’s ambassador to Poland on Monday was doused with red paint by protestors in Warsaw as he sought to pay his respects at a cemetery where Red Army soldiers who died in World War II are buried. “Neo-Nazi fans showed their face once again – and it is a bloody one,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement responding to the incident, once again falsely characterizing opponents of Russia’s unprovoked war as pro-Nazi.
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