The Kremlin declined to confirm Friday whether a Victory Day parade will take place on Monday in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, saying a wide celebration of Victory Day is currently impossible “for obvious reasons.”
“I can’t tell on the behalf of the military if there are any plans,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told CNN on a regular conference call with journalists, when asked if a Victory Parade is expected in Mariupol.
First deputy head of the presidential administration of Russia, Sergei Kiriyenko, previously had said that a parade on Victory Day this year in Donetsk and Luhansk could not yet be held, but time for that would come soon, according to state news agency RIA Novosti.
Some background: Western officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin could formally declare war on Ukraine as soon as May 9, a symbolic day for Russia, paving the way for him to step his campaign.
May 9, known as “Victory Day” inside Russia, commemorates the country’s defeat of the Nazis in 1945.
More details from the Kremlin: Peskov said Friday that May 9 is a “sacred” day for Russians, and it won’t be “overshadowed” by the events unfolding in Ukraine.
“Victory Day for all Russians, for almost all residents of the former territory of the Soviet Union, is a sacred day, the main holiday, which is filled with symbolism, a sense of pain for the sacrifices that we have suffered through, and a sense of pride for our country and our victory. Therefore, nothing will overshadow it,” Peskov told journalists during a daily call with the media, when asked if the war, people dying in Ukraine and rumors of upcoming mobilization in Russia may overshadow the solemn Victory Day mood.
Peskov went on to say that “from the point of view of national pride, the significance of this holiday cannot be overestimated.”
The Kremlin confirmed Friday that Putin will attend the traditional Victory Parade on May 9 held in Moscow’s Red Square and will make a speech. At the end of the parade, Putin will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
This year’s parade is expected to be of a smaller scale than in previous years. According to the Kremlin, international leaders have not been invited to attend the festivities. “We didn’t invite anyone to Victory Day,” Peskov said last week.
The display of the military equipment is also expected to be smaller. According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, 11,000 people and 131 types of weapons will be involved in the military parade this year compared to 191 military vehicles and 12,000 people last year. The air show is expected to include 77 aircraft and helicopters, one additional aircraft compared to last year.