Russia Scales Back May 9 Victory Day Parade as Ukraine War Takes Toll

Russia's Victory Day parade on Moscow's Red Square on May 9 is set to be considerably scaled back compared to last year, according to data from the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Victory Day, which is Russia's annual commemoration of the end of World War II, known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War, is typically marked with Russian President Vladimir Putin addressing crowds and a military parade at Moscow's Red Square.

The Russian leader usually uses the day of national celebration to show off Russia's military power.

But this year, amid Putin's invasion of Ukraine, fewer people and less military equipment will be at the 2022 Victory Day parade, data published by the Defense Ministry on April 29 shows.

Moscow's Annual Victory Parade In Red Square
Soldiers march in the annual Victory Day military parade at Red Square in Moscow on May 9, 2008. This year's parade is set to be considerably scaled back compared to last year, according to data from the Russian Ministry of Defense. Dima Korotayev/Epsilon/Getty Images

The ministry said 129 units of military equipment will cross Red Square on May 9, while last year, 191 military vehicles took part.

The ministry said approximately 10,000 civilians will walk through the square during the parade this year, including employees of Russia's Ministry of Emergency Situations—a Russian government agency overseeing civil emergency services. In comparison, 12,000 people participated in the parade in 2021.

Troop turnout is still expected to be considerable. Russian state-run outlet RIA Novosti cited the defense ministry as saying that more than 11,000 troops are set to take part in the day of national celebration. That's compared to 12,000 who participated in the event last year.

The ministry also told the outlet that 77 aircraft and helicopters are currently involved in preparations for the parade.

Russian authorities have not specified why this year's Victory Parade is being scaled down. Newsweek has contacted Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Rehearsals

Rehearsals of the parade in the run-up to the celebration have involved a wide range of military equipment, including all-terrain vehicles, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, missile and artillery weapons systems, and missile defense systems, reported Russian state-run outlet RBC.

The final rehearsal of the Red Square parade will take place on the morning of May 7, and the square is currently closed to the public until Victory Day, according to Russian media.

The day will begin with a parade and display of military equipment at 10 a.m. local time, and a program for veterans, featuring an orchestra and. An opera will take place in the evening, among other musical performances. The event will end with festive fireworks at 10 p.m.

A procession called the "Immortal Regiment" will also take place as usual this year. It invites all those who lost relatives in the war to participate. An estimated 27 million Soviet citizens were killed during World War II.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on April 29 that this year foreign leaders—including Putin's Belarusian ally, Alexander Lukashenko—have not been invited to celebrate Victory Day.

Victory Day military parade
A general view of the Victory Day military parade, which was delayed because of COVID 19, in Moscow's Red Square on June 24, 2020. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said foreign leaders have not been invited to this year's event. Alexander Vilf - Host Photo Agency/Getty Images

All-Out War?

Putin's war with Ukraine has reportedly taken a considerable toll on the country's military resources, and has diminished Russian troop morale.

Western officials have speculated that Putin will use the event declare all-out war on Ukraine, as this would authorize the Kremlin under Russian law to draft conscripts and mobilize reserve forces.

The Kremlin has called such analysis "nonsense."

"There is no chance of that. It's nonsense," said Peskov. "It is not true."

Russia Holds 75th Anniversary Victory Parade
Sukhoi Su-25 close air support jets fly over Red Square in Moscow during the delayed Victory Day military parade on June 24, 2020. Western officials have speculated that Vladimir Putin will use this year's event to declare all-out war on Ukraine. Grigory Sysoev - Host Photo Agency/Getty Images

Update 05/05/22, 9:34 a.m. ET: This article has been updated to indicate the Russian Foreign Ministry has been contacted.