Putin on Parade
This May’s parade in Moscow to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II promises to be the greatest Victory Day celebration since the Soviet Union’s collapse. But no parade, however grand, can obscure the truth: Russia’s days as a superpower are in the past.
NEW YORK – This May’s parade in Moscow to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II promises to be the greatest Victory Day celebration since the Soviet Union’s collapse. Some 16,000 soldiers, 200 armored vehicles, and 150 planes and helicopters are set to pass through and over Red Square. It will be a scene that would easily have been familiar to Soviet leaders like Leonid Brezhnev and Nikita Khrushchev, taking the salute atop Lenin’s tomb.
Yet, though Russia’s WWII allies were from Europe and North America, no Western leaders will attend the commemoration – a reflection of the West’s disapproval of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. Instead, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s high-profile guests will include the leaders of China, India, and North Korea, underscoring just how few friends Russia has these days.
The surreal nature of this gathering reflects the increasingly bizarre nature of Putin’s regime. Indeed, watching Russia nowadays is like watching the last installment of the X-Men film franchise, “Days of Future Past.” Just as the X-Men in that film join forces with their younger selves to save mankind’s future, today’s Kremlin is harking back to Russia’s Soviet past in what it sees as a contemporary fight for the country’s survival.