The Kremlin is finding it difficult to maintain its rhetoric comparing its full-scale invasion of Ukraine with the Soviet fight against the Nazis during World War Two, British defense officials have said.
In its daily update, the U.K. Ministry of Defense (MOD) referred to the cancelation of this year’s Immortal Regiment Great Patriotic War remembrance marches due to “safety” issues.
Instead, remembrance events will take place in other forms. These could include posting photos of relative military members on social media, on clothes, on cars, and on websites dedicated to the regiment.
But British defense officials said that the decision was taken because authorities were likely to be worried that the participants “would highlight the scope of recent Russian losses.”
Russian military vehicles roll during the Victory Day Parade at Red Square on May 9, 2022 in Moscow. U.K. defense officials said on April 22, 2023 the Kremlin is struggling to compare the war in Ukraine with the Soviet fight against the Nazis during World War Two.
The Centers for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said in February that Russia suffered more combat deaths in the first year of the war against Ukraine than in all of its wars since World War II combined. As well as the high troop losses, there is much anticipation over an imminent Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The decision to nix Immortal Regiment marches follows the cancelation of Victory Day events in the Russian oblasts of Belgorod and Kursk, as well as the occupied peninsula of Crimea.
Authorities said that the May 9 commemorations would not take place due to security concerns but there has been speculation that they were kiboshed because of a lack of tanks and equipment caused by the war.
British defense officials noted that the latest cancelation followed comments by Wagner Group owner Yevgeny Prigozhin in which he publicly questioned whether there are actually any ‘Nazis’ in Ukraine.
“The Russian state is struggling to maintain consistency in a core narrative that it uses to justify the war in Ukraine—that the invasion is analogous to the Soviet experience in the Second World War,” Saturday’s update said.
Putin has frequently used World War Two as a reference point for his own unjustified invasion in talking points repeated on Kremlin propaganda outlets. Russian authorities have continued “to unify the Russian public around polarising myths about the 1940s,” the British MOD said.
Earlier this month, state news agency RIA Novosti reported that documents from FSB archives implicated the Nazis in the murder of 22,000 Polish nationals in the Katyn Massacre of 1940.
“In reality, FSB’s predecessor agency, the NKVD, was responsible,” the MOD noted, referring to how in 2010, Russia’s State Duma had officially condemned Soviet leader Joseph Stalin for ordering the killings. Newsweek has contacted the Kremlin for comment.