Friday, May 10, 2019

This Year’s Victory Day Parade Shows Kremlin Views Its Own People as ‘Most Likely Opponent’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 9 – In Soviet times, Western analysts devoted enormous attention to parades in Red Square considering not only the order leaders stood on the mausoleum but also the technology those leaders chose to put on display, viewing the first as an indication of who was up and who was down and the second as a sign of their military readiness.

            This year’s Victory Day parade offers few clues about the first but it provides clear evidence of the latter, Russian commentator Sergey Kuzyakin says. It shows “who the powers that be of the Russian Federation view as their most likely opponent: the citizens of Russia” (

                Military parades typically have two purposes, Kuzyakin says. “On the one hand, their goal is to promote the strengthening of a feeling of national unity; and on the other, to indicate to a probable opponent the military power of the state” to intimidate the latter.

            Thus, in Soviet times, the main military parade, which was “not on May 9 but rather on November 7,” featured ballistic missiles and other weaponry intended to be used exclusively against foreign foes.  But things have changed under Vladimir Putin: Now, the power on display are “police, FSB officers, prosecutors, and other ‘pillars’ of the regime.”

            None of these is intended to defend Russia and the Russian people from any foreign threat. Instead, they are intended to defend the regime from the Russian people, a signal to the population that the Kremlin views them and not some foreign country as the primary threat to its existence and power.

            When the Russian Guard and its crowd control weapons receive more prominent treatment in such parades than does the army, navy and air force, Kuzyakin continues, no one can have any doubt of this; and all Russians – and indeed everyone else – should “understand this well.”

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