Espreso. Global

Unlimited war

9 September, 2023 Saturday

Why Putin is preparing to celebrate Victory Day on May 9, 2025

With a high likelihood, we can assume that Putin has set a new deadline for ending the war, aiming for the 80th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War. However, it's also highly probable that this day won't be a cause for celebration for Putin.

Putin recently conducted an extensive meeting on this matter, a significant departure from previous discussions. Planning for such a celebration a year and a half in advance is extraordinary and suggests more than just a simple commemoration. This holiday, in Putin's perspective and that of his inner circle, seems to revolve around at least three key aspects:

1. Ensuring complete unity among Russians in support of the idea of victory, with Putin as its embodiment. Notably, the upcoming March presidential election is no longer seen solely as an election but rather as a referendum on granting Putin unlimited authority in all aspects of the war. To put it simply, it's a referendum on prioritizing the war over daily necessities like food. This is a critical challenge for the Kremlin, since issues such as the declining value of the ruble and rising prices have become primary concerns for the Russian populace. Putin's strategy over the past year and a half, which was essentially to maintain the status quo, is beginning to unravel. Polls indicate that people perceive their situation as worsening, and as a result, Kremlin propaganda is desperately searching for a replacement for the previous narrative. It's evident that living standards are deteriorating, and finding a new message to address this issue will be the foundation of the upcoming information campaign.

It's important to emphasize once more that Putin made the decision to go to war prior to his anticipated victory, and this decision carries with it a set of corresponding consequences. The date 05/09/2025 represents a hope for a swift, as paradoxical as it may sound, end to the war. The Russian population's expectation is that they only need to endure until May 2025.

2. This is a demonstration that Putin wants to handle things on his own without needing intermediaries. The talks with Erdogan confirmed this indirectly: it's been two days, and we still haven't heard about the "secret files" that Putin was supposed to share through Erdogan. The problem seems to be that these files might not even exist. This is strange because it's Putin's main bargaining point. He usually tries to raise the stakes in negotiations, but now he can't do that because he lacks something valuable to use as leverage. He's desperately searching for something to give him an upper hand, like a failed war in Niger or new technologies for North Korea, although it's uncertain if he can acquire them.

Putin is desperately searching for ways to raise the stakes.

3. Tightening control over the media and influential people in Russia. The Kremlin has successfully taken control of Telegram channels and influential figures. However, the system that existed for decades is starting to break down. Until now, different segments of Russian society had their own competing media outlets. Now, many Russians who used to rely on these sources for information about the front lines or government actions have lost their trusted sources. Surprisingly, this creates a small opportunity for our media to become a reliable source of information for some Russians. Others who support war efforts will try to piece together information. What's important for us is that a battle is happening in Russia to silence a portion of enthusiastic patriots. The Kremlin's approach is simple: if you support their worldview and stay silent about the front lines, you're fine. If not, you may meet the same fate as Girkin. A similar situation is unfolding among the elites. Instead of Girkin, think of Prigozhin, who was killed despite Putin promising not to harm him, breaking a 30-year tradition of keeping promises, along with the elections in Khakassia.

In Khakassia, the elites were shown that they must follow the Kremlin's lead or face consequences. In simple terms, Russia is entering a new phase of tightening control, where the elites must align with Putin's vision and his few close advisors to support an all-out war, or they will face dire consequences.

These are Putin's plans, but life can throw unexpected challenges. From the trivial, like $38 billion being stuck in Indian rupees, to the fact that tightening control often leads to a tense atmosphere. In short, Russia is moving from "capturing Kyiv in three days" to "celebrating Victory Day in 2025," and Putin might not have much to celebrate.


About the author: Vadym Denysenko, political scientist.

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.

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