This Monday, Putin will want to impress the world: why this May 9 could become a historic day
Eva Deschamps / May 8, 2022
In the tense context of the war in Ukraine, the Russian military parade of May 9 will have a particular weight. To symbolize the Russian power, President Putin will fly the Ilyushin Il-80, the plane of the Apocalypse.
This Saturday, Russia made final rehearsals before the traditional military parade of May 9 in Moscow celebrating the victory over Nazi Germany, which will be an opportunity for a show of force in the midst of Ukraine's struggling campaign.
In recent years, President Vladimir Putin has used this parade to showcase the power of his army, sometimes unveiling new state-of-the-art weapons. And this edition should be no different.
This year, if the Russian tanks and soldiers will parade as usual on the emblematic Red Square, the spirits will be in Ukraine, where Moscow has been leading, since the end of February, an offensive that has put into question the image of its army. Indeed, the military intervention, which many experts predicted as dazzling, is in its third month and has been marked by setbacks, particularly logistical.
While this parade is usually closely followed by Western capitals, Vladimir Putin will have another opportunity to send warnings, while Moscow has several times brandished the nuclear threat. Given the context in this year 2022, the scale of the event could well put the support of the Russian people at stake.
According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Doomsday Plane, an Il-80 specially designed to allow the Russian president to continue to fly the country from the air in the event of nuclear war, will fly over Red Square. This giant aircraft designed during the Cold War acts as a flying bunker to protect the Kremlin's top officials in case of a nuclear attack. This plane of the Apocalypse is capable of flying for several days without landing thanks to in-flight refuelling. As an additional provocation from Putin, it has already flown over the outskirts of Moscow during the week.
It's been twelve years since the Russians took the Ilyushin IL-80out of its hangar, its last official presentation dating back to the parade on May 9, 2010. The aerial display will be just as imposing with 77 Z-shaped aircraft and helicopters, the symbol of support for the Russian invasion.
Several weapons capable of firing nuclear missiles, such as the Iars RS-24intercontinental ballistic system and the shorter-range Iskander system, will also be paraded. This year's military parade will also be held against the backdrop of fears among many Russians of a general mobilization in connection with Ukraine, although the Kremlin has denied that such a measure is planned.
The May 9 parade only became an annual tradition after the fall of the USSR in 1991. Putin has turned it into a spectacular event, with a polished television production, aiming both to intimidate Moscow's opponents and to maintain the patriotic fibre of Russians.