On May 9th Russia celebrated the 71st anniversary of victory over the Nazis in the Great Patriotic War. The Victory Day parade equipment lacked the white hubcaps and red stars of days past. Prominent were green battle dress uniforms and the trademark St. George orange-black stripes adorned with stars. Since 2014, the parade has featured units in combat gear, marching on foot wearing helmets with (silly-looking) goggles atop and riding matte green GAZ Tigr armored jeeps.
The Victory Day parade is becoming a spectacle for linking the new narrative of the Great Patriotic War with contemporary Russian national identity and integrating it to a new Russian patriotism. The parades also serve the Supreme Commander, the President of the Russian Federation, allowing him to cement new policy by declaring pravda. This falls well within the tasks and jurisdiction of the president as his annual Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly is regarded as guidance related to the internal and foreign policy of the State. Some of the provisions of the Russian Military Doctrine, National Security Strategy and the Foreign Policy Concept are specified in the Presidential Addresses. Therefore it is important to regard these speeches as more than just attempts to bolster spirit, national unity and panem et circenses. The speeches should be put in a context of policy and listened to very carefully. What is said is equally important as what is being left out, especially compared to earlier Victory Day speeches, since this gives insight to changes is Russian thinking and policy.
Since 2011, the Victory Day speeches have focused on the battle against fascism and Nazism by the Soviet people, the Red Army and the great sacrifices of the Soviet people to liberate Europe in World War II. There is a stark contrast between the speeches of 2010 and 2014; the latter lacks any mention of Allies. In 2010 military units from the CIS countries and the Allies Great Britain, the United States, France and Poland marched alongside Russian troops with the German chancellor Angela Merkel sitting beside Putin.
Below are word clouds of the Victory Day speeches along with key excerpts from the speeches illustrating a clear shift towards a more isolated Russian position. [Read more… 2049 words, 9 min]