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Russian war of aggression: parade without victory – Putin is preparing for a long war

Russian war of aggression: parade without victory – Putin is preparing for a long war

With a military parade, Kremlin leader Putin wants to demonstrate confidence in victory in the midst of his war against Ukraine. The weapons show also represents the militarization of Russia – even at school.

In the “Victory Park” in Moscow, Russia’s armed forces have been getting people in the mood for the big military parade for days: a trophy show with a German Leopard tank and other weapons from NATO countries. “We’re winning this war too,” says a man who came with his son to inspect the spoils of war from Ukraine. “History repeats itself,” is written at the entrance to the exhibition.

The slogan builds a bridge to the victory of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany in World War II, which Russia celebrates on May 9th.

Thousands of spectators enthusiastically examine the trophies, including a Marder infantry fighting vehicle and a US Abrams main battle tank. A few hundred meters further on, there is also a permanent exhibition of weapons from the Second World War in the park “Pobedy” (German: “Park of Victory”). At stalls throughout the park, visitors, many of them children, can disassemble and reassemble a Kalashnikov assault rifle, inspect standard soldier equipment and eat in a field kitchen.

Parade as a symbol of increasing militarization in Russia

Russia seems to be in a frenzy of victory and war these days. The traditional highlight on Victory Day (May 9) is the military parade on Red Square in Moscow with thousands of soldiers, tanks, missiles and military technology, including a speech by the commander-in-chief of the nuclear power, President Vladimir Putin. Elsewhere in the country, parades have been canceled for security reasons. The Kremlin chief, who celebrated his fifth inauguration on Tuesday, is likely to once again justify his war against Ukraine – as a fight against the West and the US’s dominant role.

Officially, the expensive march in Moscow, which always attracts hundreds of thousands of onlookers, commemorates the 79th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II. Above all, the parade is a demonstration of power. It now also symbolically stands for the increasing militarization of Russian society in the third year of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine – from the ramped-up war economy to new military drills, including for school children.

War economy does not bring natural growth

Putin is likely to be particularly confident of victory after his recent tactical successes, which have also been confirmed by Western military experts. It is part of his constant narrative that Russia is invincible and can withstand Western sanctions that were intended to stop its war against Ukraine. Many people in the country complain that everything has become more expensive.

The Russian economy is driven by two factors – import displacement, which is strengthening demand for its own products against the background of Western sanctions, and government spending, especially in defense production. Regions with a strong arms economy such as Tula, Ryazan and Nizhny Novgorod achieved above-average growth last year, says the renowned Moscow economist Natalja Subarevich. The defense factories work in three shifts to meet the demand for weapons, ammunition and equipment.

The Kremlin is spending the equivalent of around 110 billion euros on defense alone this year. There is also a further 34 billion euros for the areas of national security and security organs. In total, this is 38.6 percent of all expenditure in the Russian budget or 8 percent of the gross domestic product. For the first time, Russia is investing more money in the military and security organs than in social spending.

The military also enables social advancement. The soldiers are recruited with high pay. The Ministry of Defense promises more than 2,000 euros to Russians who go to war. This is an important argument, especially in the regions, as salaries there are sometimes a tenth of the total. Soldiers thus become upstarts in their region, boosting consumption because they can afford more than others.

However, the current growth brings with it structural problems: the already existing shortage of skilled workers is exacerbated by the focus on the war economy. Paradox: Even in the traditionally well-paying oil industry, there is now a lack of workers because more money is flowing into the defense sector and on the front lines. Competition drives up wages without increasing labor productivity. On the contrary: sanctions are causing Russia to fall behind technologically in international comparison. The economy thus becomes dependent on the war – and the state’s ability to finance it.

Situation at the front: Minister calls for attacks to be speeded up

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu continues to encourage the defense industry – including during visits to production facilities. More high-quality weapons are needed, including drones for the front, he emphasizes. Putin’s confidant urges us to hurry in view of the arms aid for Ukraine announced by the USA and other states. “It is necessary to increase the pace of attacks,” said Shoigu at a meeting with military officials in Moscow – and at the same time praised the fact that around 550 square kilometers of Ukrainian territory had been conquered since the beginning of the year alone.

In fact, after a slump in the first year of the war, where they suffered some bitter defeats, Russian forces are back on the offensive. This is due, on the one hand, to the increased war production at home, and, on the other hand, to the fact that the supply of arms and ammunition to Ukraine was paralyzed for months by its main ally, the USA.

The crisis has not been overcome for Kiev even after the passage of a US aid package worth 61 billion dollars (57 billion euros). It will take some time before the weapons reach the front. Many experienced soldiers died. In addition, Ukraine had to give up an important fortress in Avdiivka. Experts believe the country will not be able to recapture territory until 2025 at the earliest. According to experts, Russia, on the other hand, is hoping for a front breakthrough in the summer and is targeting the cities of Kharkiv and Odessa with over a million inhabitants.

Militarization also of children and young people

Putin, who now wants to rule for six years until the next election, is preparing for a long war. There is no end in sight to the invasion of Ukraine or to Moscow’s confrontation with the West.

In fact, militarization now extends into schools. Russian media reports that participants in the war, including convicted murderers and sex offenders, appear in school classes and give “lessons in courage.” Pictures are making the rounds on social networks of girls and boys trying on bulletproof vests in class. A mother in Moscow says her daughter recently had to put on a gas mask for training – not very enthusiastically.

Centers for pre-military training are opening all over the country, where children not only practice shooting and get to know different types of grenades. There is also training on drones and first aid. “Putin has given the task of raising a new generation of patriots – we are fulfilling this,” says Igor Vorobyov, director of the center for military-sports training and patriotic education of youth “Woin” in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad). The target group: pupils and students, 14 to 35 year olds, according to the center’s website. Above all, says Vorobyov, it is about preparing the young patriots well for military service.

Source: Stern

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