This past Friday, May 8th, was the 70th anniversary of V-E (Victory in Europe) Day. The Western Allies commemorated it with solemn remembrances of the men and women who gave their lives during World War II, as well as a salute to the few remaining veterans from it. The day was mostly about the history of that era.
In Russia, however, President Vladimir Putin seemed to take a different approach. He held the parade on Saturday, May 9th, assumedly to separate it from the Western Allies of that by-gone era. His focus seemed to be more on demonstrating Russia’s military might, with 17,000 current soldiers marching in Red Square, along with larger-than-life weaponry.
Russia suffered more than any other country during that war, with a total of 27 million military and civilians killed, plus considerable physical devastation throughout the nation. Various Western heads-of-state had been present for previous celebrations in Moscow, such as Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, for the 50th and 60th anniversaries, respectively; however, the West shunned this year’s parade due to Russia’s involvement in Eastern Ukraine.
Considering the sorry state of the Russian economy–high unemployment, depleted cash reserves, isolation from many global markets, high unemployment, etc–it would be logical to expect Vladimir Putin to follow the “Guns vs. Butter” theme. Don’t deprive domestic programs merely in order to demonstrate military bombast. Putin does, however, have two aces-in-the-hole: he controls the media and, accordingly, what information is disseminated; and the Russian people love their military and are willing to sacrifice virtually anything in order to support their men and women in uniform.