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Analysing Putin’s Swagger Last Week



Image Created Courtesy Wix AI

In our Ukraine War Risk & Advisory 04/24 we analyse the reasons for Russian President Mr Vladimir Putin’s Swagger last week and the likely trajectory and portends ahead.


The past week saw swagger return to the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s walk as he strode into the Kremlin Palace to take the oath of allegiance to the Russian Constitution to begin his fifth term on May 07.


“We are a united and great people and together we will overcome all obstacles, realize all our plans, together we will win,” Putin said after being sworn in.


The attendance from the international community at the inauguration was thin with only a few envoys being present while the US, UK and Germany amongst other European countries barred the event.


Two days later May 09, Mr Putin took the salute at a parade on the Red Square on the Victory Day Parade to celebrate Allied success in the Second World War.


It was certainly a marked contrast to the parade in 2023 where the fly past was ruled out due to threat of Ukraine drone attacks.


But a lone T-34 tank – the much famed war machine of the Second World War trundled across with a fighter fly past running the Russian tricolour.


9,000 military personnel took part, including a thousand currently serving in what Russia still calls the “special military operation”


Russia's Yars intercontinental strategic missile  marked the strategic system on display.


The “global” leaders attending the event had shrunk to Mr Putin’s “followers,” to include Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Turkmen President Serdar Berdimuhamedov, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Mokhtar Sissoco Embaló, and Laotian President Thongloun Sisoulith.


The Victory parade signifies success of the Allied powers – United States, Britain, France amongst others who ironically today are on the opposite side of the spectrum in Ukraine.

Russia lost a staggering 25 million soldiers and civilians in the Second World War a sacrifice that received mention during Mr Putin’s address on the Victory Day.


“Russia is now going through a difficult, transitional period,” he said. “The fate of the motherland, its future depends on each of us … We celebrate Victory Day in the context of the special military operation. All its participants — those who are on the front line, on the line of combat contact — are our heroes. We bow to your perseverance and self-sacrifice, dedication. All of Russia is with you!”

 

Contemporary Reality


Ironically the same tactics of using mass of artillery and armour seem to be dominating the War in Ukraine which was launched with a Russian offensive to seize Kyiv on February 24, two years back.


The last two years have seen battlefield advantage swing between the two adversaries.

Nevertheless, for Russia 2023 has been the best year of the Ukraine War so far continued to be referred by Moscow as a Special Military Operation.


Russian offensive ongoing in the area from Kharkiv Oblast down to the Donetsk-Zaporizhia Oblast border area in the Chasiv Yar, Avdiivka, and Marinka directions has gone off well from the tactical point of view using massed artillery and launching attack unmindful of the human casualties with many claiming the front line was manned for foreign volunteers lured by salaries and the promise of a Russian passport.





Thus, protests have been ongoing in countries from Nepal to Sri Lanka where citizens are demanding that the local government work out return of youth who have been lured by dubious agents to fight in Russia.


In another dimension of the Russian offensive Sputnik Globe reported that Russia's Armed Forces launched a barrage of missiles and drones targeting energy and military-industrial facilities across Ukraine in the early hours of May 8 targeting five Ukrainian regions – Poltava, Kirovograd, Lvov, Ivano-Frankovsk, and Vinnitsa – as well as part of the Zaporozhye region.


Alliance Against Russia


Yet the forebodings are not well for Russia despite the advantage of being on the tactical offensive.


Ukraine commenced mustering formidable resources with  U.S. President Joe Biden signing off on $61 billion in aid to Ukraine.


Britain has emphasized that Ukraine had the right to strike Russia with British weapons while French President Emmanuel Macron has for the first time indicated a possibility of sending troops to  fight Russian forces in Ukraine.


The Russian response has been a threat to deploy tactical nuclear weapons with a drill being held to demonstrate seriousness.


Meanwhile first batch of ammunition under the Czech initiative to procure rounds outside the EU should be delivered to Ukraine early summer as per a statement by the Czech President. "Prime Minister Petr Fiala and I assume that the first 180,000 artillery rounds will be delivered in June, and there are already contracts for another five- or six-figure amount of ammunition," the head of state Petr Pavel told a German media source.


The mobilization of manpower and resources by Russia and a corresponding gap for Ukraine has led to a tactical advantage but the Russian war machine may be hollow inside as, Russian Deputy Defence Minister Timur Ivanov  has been caught for taking bribes.


Trends Ahead


War in Ukraine is a multiple year conflict that is expected to continue as each side musters resources and jockeys for advantage on the battlefield.


The use of similar tactics of mass by the Russian as well as the Ukrainian armed forces implies that material and personnel advantage will dictate war outcomes.


Russia has the advantage in this respect and while Ukraine is receiving substantial support from the US and Europe fighting is left to the Ukrainian armed forces, who will have to adopt not just innovative technology but also tactics to firstly prevent a Russian breakthrough and achieve a stalemate in 2024.

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