Putin: “Strategic nuclear warheads always ready.” Parade in the frost in Moscow. Lithuania: “Send soldiers to Ukraine”


By John

Russia “will do everything to avoid a global confrontation” but “will not allow anyone to threaten it”, and will maintain the operational readiness of its nuclear “strategic forces”. Vladimir Putin's words are in tune with the gray skies and winter temperatures hanging over Red Square. Cold War statements, uttered by the Kremlin leader at the parade for the anniversary of the victory over Hitler while tensions with the West over the conflict in Ukraine reach levels never reached before. +Almost at the same time, it was up to Deputy Foreign Minister Serghei Ryabkov to warn that Russia is “strengthening nuclear deterrence measures” to respond to the “policy of escalation” of which Moscow accuses the Europeans and the USA. And this as Putin confirms that Belarus will join exercises to test the readiness of tactical nuclear weapons.

“Nothing unusual, it's a planned job,” minimizes the president. But when announcing the tests in recent days, the Ministry of Defense said that it was a response to Western “threats”. The main threat that military leaders are talking about is the hypothesis put forward by French President Emmanuel Macron of sending troops to Ukraine in the event of a collapse of the defenses of Kiev, which is in serious difficulty.

Words that raised little enthusiasm among Western allies. But today the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, in an interview with the Guardian, evoked a possible ad hoc coalition of Western countries that would send military training personnel to Ukraine with the support of air defense. An initiative that would bring the possibility of a direct confrontation with Moscow closer.

“It could be a first step in Macron's initiative,” underlined Landsbergis. Putin's warning about nuclear weapons was visually accompanied by the presence of strategic missile launchers in today's parade, which was attended by 9,000 military personnel, including many fighters in the conflict in Ukraine, whom the president hailed as “heroes”.

According to tradition, a T-34 tank from the Great Patriotic War, as the war against the Nazis is called in Moscow, in which, according to official estimates, no less than 27 million Russians died, including soldiers and civilians. And, as is now customary, Putin made a comparison between that fight and the one against the current “followers of Nazism”, among whom he includes the Kiev leadership.

Against them and their Western supporters, former president Dmitry Medvedev even went so far as to predict a future international trial, a “Nuremberg 2.0”, as he called it. The celebrations began, after a snowfall, at 10 in the morning, with the chiming of the clock on the Kremlin's Spasskaya tower. The presence of guest heads of state was limited.

Next to Putin in the stands sat the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Cuba, Laos and Guinea-Bissau, who after the parade accompanied him to pay homage to the nearby monument to the Unknown Soldier.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, however, was absent, confirming the cooling of relations between Moscow and Yerevan. In the afternoon, the traditional march of the Immortal Regiment was cancelled, where Russian citizens parade showing photographs of fathers, grandfathers or great-grandfathers who fought against Nazism.

A decision motivated by security fears, both for possible Ukrainian attacks and terrorist attacks after the attack on Crocus City Hall last March. Alarms that turned out to be unfounded. A drone attack instead took place, and was claimed by Kiev's intelligence services, against a refinery located 1,200 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, in the Republic of Bashkiria.

The head of the republic, Radiy Khabirov, reported that the unmanned aircraft hit a Gazprom plant in the city of Salavat, where there was damage to a pumping station but no deaths or injuries.