Putin’s ‘one tank’ military parade was an embarrassment for Russia

  • Analysts noted that Russia’s Victory Day military parade on Tuesday not only showed Russia’s insecurity over possible Ukrainian attacks, but also highlighted the country’s depleted military resources.
  • May 9 is a public holiday in Russia commemorating the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
  • It is the most important day in the general calendar and history of Russia.
  • Normally the appearance of a single Soviet-era tank in Russia’s massive military parade raised eyebrows.

A single Soviet T-34 tank, on display at Russia’s Victory Day parade on May 9, 2023, rolls through Red Square.

Contributor | Getty Images News | Good pictures

Political analysts said Russia’s Victory Day military parade not only showed Moscow’s insecurity about possible Ukrainian attacks, but also the country’s depleted military resources due to the conflict.

May 9 is a public holiday in Russia commemorating the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. It is the most important day in Russia’s public calendar and history, and is a central part of the country’s modern national identity.

This year’s military parade through Red Square in Moscow and celebrations across the country were smaller than in previous years or canceled altogether, with six regions (including annexed Crimea) and at least 20 cities suspending their commemorations.

In Moscow on Tuesday, the military parade was more low-key, with no fly-pasts or “Immortal Regiment” processions — large-scale public events that usually commemorate those killed in World War II. There were far fewer troops and military hardware on display than in previous years.

Analysts noted that only one Stalin-era tank was on display during the military parade through Red Square.

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“It’s hard to imagine a more fitting symbol of Russia’s declining military fortunes than a lone Stalin-era tank being cut off in Red Square during the country’s traditional Victory Day celebration on May 9,” said Peter Dickinson, editor of Ukraine Alert, a magazine at the Atlantic Council, in an opinion piece on Tuesday.

“For the past two decades, Vladimir Putin has used Victory Day to showcase the resurgence of modern Russia as a military superpower, with dozens of the latest tanks typically participating in each annual parade. This year, however, the only tank on display was a pre-World War II T-34 model.”

Russia has displayed long lines of tanks in previous years’ Victory Day parades. Here, a Russian T-90A tank rolls through the previous parade in Red Square.


Dickinson noted, “Inevitably, the absence of tanks from this year’s Victory Day parade is widely interpreted as further evidence of Russia’s catastrophic losses in Ukraine,” a statement echoed by the UK Ministry of Defence.

“The decoration of Russia’s annual Victory Day parade in Red Square highlights the material and strategic communication challenges” the Russian military faces 15 months into the war in Ukraine, the ministry commented on Wednesday.

“More than 8,000 personnel reportedly took part in the march, but the majority were cadets from auxiliary, paramilitary forces and military training institutes,” the ministry noted on Twitter in its latest intelligence update, adding, “The only personnel forces from regular deployable formations were a group of railway troops and military police.”

A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

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Security concerns were the apparent reason for Russia’s Victory Day events last week, when a drone attack on the Kremlin was allegedly carried out (which Russia has blamed on Ukraine and the United States, which both have denied). A low profile event.

But military analysts have noted that the Kremlin is keen to avoid any chance of public criticism of its invasion, maintaining that it is still a “special military operation” – with the only reference to the war on Tuesday coming from a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Red Square says “a real war is being waged against our motherland” despite Russia’s invasion of its neighboring country, Ukraine.

Noting a lone “vintage” T-34 tank on display, the UK’s Ministry of Defense said Russia could have fielded more armored vehicles despite heavy losses in Ukraine, but “may have refrained from doing so because officials want to avoid domestic criticism.” Regarding the priority of marches in war operations.”

The Atlantic Council’s Dickinson noted that this year’s ban on “Immortal Regiment” parades was “an even bigger blow” to the Kremlin and that Russians in general had a chance to remember their loved ones lost in World War II. Concerns that family members of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine may seek to participate.

Participants carry flags and portraits of people, including Red Army soldiers, during the Victory Day Immortal Regiment parade marking the 77th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II on May 9, 2022 in Moscow, Russia.

Shamil Zhumatov | Reuters

Ukraine was apparently quick to stage a scaled-down Victory Day parade.

“Modern Russian military equipment is much easier to see at Ukrainian military trophy exhibitions than at victory parades in Moscow,” Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Koncharenko said on Twitter, the official Twitter account of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. All of Ukraine laughed at a tank from Russia.

Ukraine is distancing itself from Russia’s influence and orbit, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday. Submitted A draft law in the Ukrainian parliament would instead call May 8 the “Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism in World War II” and instead call May 9 in Russia and other former Soviet republics.

From now on, May 9 will be called “Europe Day” in Ukraine, he said, adding that “we will remember our historical unity – the unity of all Europeans who destroyed Nazism and defeated racism,” Zelensky noted. To describe “Russian fascism”.

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