Russia strikes back: Will Putin declare all-out war on Ukraine on Monday?
Will Putin officially declare war on Ukraine on Monday May 9? May 9 is approaching, and with it comes the annual Victory Day Parade, when Russia celebrates victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
Historically, the May 9 parade was an opportunity for Russian leaders to show the world the military might of Russia, or the Soviet Union before it.
Every year, the Kremlin releases its newest and most advanced weapons systems. At recent Victory Day parades, the Russian military displayed the T-14 Armata main battle tank and the so-called fifth-generation Su-57 Felon stealth fighter aircraft.
This year’s May 9 parade will be different, however. This time, Russian President Vladimir Putin, his close advisers and the world know that the myth of the all-powerful Russian military is just a myth.
Russian forces have repeatedly failed to achieve their primary objectives in Ukraine, prompting theories about how Putin will proceed with a failed war.
The scenarios of May 9
There are at least two scenarios for what could happen on May 9.
First, Putin could declare war on Ukraine, allowing the Kremlin to mobilize the country and take advantage of the millions of reservists it has. So far, Moscow has called the invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation” and not a war.
However, from a military perspective, this scenario is unlikely as it would not necessarily help the Russian military on the ground. A mobilization may give the Kremlin the men to fight, but it will not necessarily give it the weapons and vehicles to fight effectively. Much has been made of the vast reserves of the Russian army, with reports claiming that Moscow has 10,000 tanks in reserve ready for war when called upon. But in reality, the Russian military is already scratching the barrel trying to equip its frontline troops with the tools they need to fight.
“I doubt Putin will declare war on May 9. VE Day seems like a bad time to declare war, which you previously downplayed as a special operation. A declaration of war could enable a mobilization, but Russia still faces problems with equipment and training,” former CIA Russia analyst Michael E. van Landingham told Sandboxx News.
The incompetence of the Russian army has led extreme losses of men and material. As of May 6, the Ukrainian military claims to have killed nearly 25,000 Russian troops and wounded or captured three times that number. Kyiv also claims to have destroyed thousands of vehicles and weapon platforms, including 2,686 armored personnel carriers, 1,926 vehicles, 1,110 tanks, 199 fighter, attack and bomber planes and 502 pieces of artillery.
Van Landingham spent 8 years at the CIA demystifying Russian politics and interpreting the plans and intentions of Russian leaders for intelligence consumers. He is the founder of Active Measures, LLCa research company.
Another option could be for Putin to declare victory and continue a low-intensity war in Donbass. This scenario is more likely given the latest developments in Mariupol.
The port city in southern Ukraine was besieged by Russian forces for over a month. The last Ukrainian defenders have taken refuge in the vast steel works of Azovstal. This several kilometers long industrial complex is a real fortress.
A few days ago, Putin declared victory in Mariupol despite continued resistance from Ukrainian forces at the Azovstal plant. He ordered Russian troops to surround but not attack the industrial complex. However, since yesterday, the Russian army has been storming the Azovstal factory. A complete victory there would give Putin something to celebrate on May 9.
“I assume Putin will continue with the operation as is to try to shore up his holdings in Donbass before asking for a ceasefire,” van Landingham added.
Recent reports have also indicated that a coup could be brewing in the Kremlin. However, the likelihood of a coup is rather low, considering how Putin has worked over the years to insure against such an event.
“I think a coup is highly unlikely. I would be happy to be wrong, but there are almost no Russian officials who could make this move and no signs that they would want to do so while Putin and his war remain generally popular,” van Landingham said.
Putin rules Russia with an iron fist. From the start of his reign, he made sure to control the oligarchs and siloviki, a circle of politicians close to the Kremlin. The May 9 festivities will give him the opportunity to reassert his power within the Kremlin.
“It is unclear who would take power if Putin was out of the picture. Patrushev [the secretary of the Russian security council and former director of the FSB] is more hawkish than Putin, and there’s already a consensus in Crimea that it’s Russia. This locks the Russian leadership into continued hostility towards Ukraine. The best-case scenario for Russia would be a return to low-intensity conflict in the Donbass, but Ukraine might not be inclined to let the Russians hang around their country after the atrocities committed by Russian forces,” the statement said. former CIA analyst at Sandboxx News.
Stavros Atlamazoglo is a Greek Army Veteran (National Service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). Johns Hopkins University. You’ll usually find him on top of a mountain admiring the view and wondering how he got there. This first appeared in Sandboxx News.