Staunton, May 9 – Many Russian commentators have pointed out that the way in which Vladimir Putin is exploiting Victory Day is about the legitimation of the Soviet past, but a Ukrainian analyst says that the most important function of this day is to exploit victory over Germany as the only positive thing linking the former Soviet republics together.
In Kyiv’s “Novoye vremya,” Andrey Trapliyenko, a military correspondent for Ukraine’s 1 + 1 TV channel, argues “the cult of ‘the Great Victory of the USSR’ is the only religion which unites the peoples of Russia in the format of an empire” and the only positive thing remaining linkin the former Soviet republics together (nv.ua/opinion/tsaplienko/kult-pobedy-poslednjaja-nadezhda-nedoimperii-118713.html).
If it were not for the cult – and it is certainly the only one that has followers among both Russians and non-Russians within Russia and in the other post-Soviet states he says, “then between the countries of the former USSR would be little in common. More than that,” he says, the non-Russian regions would “also be deprived of an idea which holds them together.”
Thus, Trapliyenko argues, “the more serious the risks of the disintegration of the empire, the more pompous the parades and the more frightening the display of arms on the streets of cities” not only in Russian-occupied portions of Ukraine but within the borders of the Russian Federation and wherever Moscow can promote its version of reality.
If the Ukrainian analyst is correct, then Putin’s use of Victory Day is a reflection not of his and Russia’s strength but precisely of its increasing weakness, a factor that should be taken into consideration by all who are trying to understand Russia today and where it and the post-Soviet space are heading.