Vladimir Putin’s annual Navy Day parade looks impressive from the banks of St. Petersburg’s Neva River; It looks even better on state TV.
No expense is spared when it comes to showing people Russia How big and dazzling are their navy and armed forces.
Though think of April and the loss of Moscow – the flagship battleship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
a direct hit of ukraine The Defense Ministry said; Fire on ship according to Russia.
A significant blow to both Russia’s prestige and its Black Sea capabilities. Nor is it the only loss to the Black Sea Fleet, a Ukrainian navy that has largely diminished since the annexation of Crimea and largely inside its ports, like its commercial shipping.
The blockade of the Black Sea has been a major strategic victory for Russia, forcing Ukraine to reconcile itself.
Stagnation at Ukraine’s ports has left large swathes of the world without grain, most importantly, but also fertilizers, sunflower oil and many other exports that would have brought much-needed cash to the Ukrainian economy.
Despite the grain deal in Istanbul, still no ship has sailed. It is a sign of a deep lack of confidence in Russia’s intentions, especially after the missile attack on the port of Odessa barely dry with ink on the deal.
Today Putin promised more big guns.
The long-delayed Zircon hypersonic missile will be delivered to Russia’s armed forces in the coming months.
The Admiral Gorshkov frigate, which has already test-fired the missile, will be its first recipient. According to Putin, the Zircon missile system will have “no equal in the world”.
The crowds along the Palace Embankment may not have taken it in particular, but they loved the parade and the aerial flight.
“Did you hear people cheering when Putin came out?” said Janna, whose distaste for everything was obvious. “I hope you have heard, I don’t think you have such a strong leader”.
“I believe you have pitted us against each other, two brothers”, he said, pointing his finger dangerously. “I hope you can understand what the Russian feeling is when you are here”.
Natalia, in a ‘V’ T-shirt, which is the merchandise to see more often, told me she was sure of victory. When I asked him what he meant by victory, he said, “Victory over fascism, over the Nazis, for peace!”.
What does the word “Nazi” mean to you?”, I ask.
“Those who are only for their nation, and do not accept others”, is the answer.
This is a broad definition. It is no surprise that it has captured the imagination of so many people in Russia. It is a world far removed from the notion of death camps and the horrific atrocities of Nazi Germany.
But not everyone is so sure about their president.
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“The disclaimer was fair to Hitler but there is no Nazism in Ukraine”, says Oleg.
“This war is Putin’s last attack on the world. A personal attack by a mad dictator against the whole world because the whole civilized world is against this outrage happening now.”
A single voice in today’s crowd. Maybe even in today’s Russia.
But there may be many others like Oleg who do not attend such events, but who feel very uncomfortable with the events of the last five months, their reservations overwhelmed by the mighty force of patriotism that Vladimir Putin has so well known. Well whipped.