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President Putin Warns West Against Provoking Global Conflict as Russia Marks Victory Day

By Vusala Abbasova May 11, 2024

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Despite the ongoing tensions, this year’s parade in Red Square maintained its traditional display of military might. / Mikhail Klimentyev / Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West against provoking a global conflict and stated that no one would be allowed to threaten the world’s biggest nuclear power.

He made the statement while delivering his speech on Thursday, marking the 79th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany.

“We reject exceptionalist claims of any country or alliance. We know what this unchecked ambition may lead to. Russia will do utmost to avoid a global confrontation but it will not allow itself to be threatened. Our strategic forces are always in combat readiness,” President Putin said, according to a report published by the official website of the Russian president. 

His remarks came amidst growing tensions between Russia and the West, particularly over the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Shortly after announcing the “military operation” in Ukraine, Russia made it clear that any attack on its territory could provoke a nuclear response. However, the nuclear rhetoric has become more aggressive since last year when Russia broke both a significant weapons reduction pact with the United States and a convention banning nuclear testing.

Earlier this week, President Putin ordered the Russian military to hold nuclear drills involving the navy and troops based near Ukraine, raising fears that he could use the powerful weapons on the battlefield.

Despite the ongoing tensions, this year’s parade in Red Square maintained its traditional display of military might. Over 9,000 military personnel took part, including a thousand currently serving in military actions in Ukraine.

However, since the launch of what Moscow calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine, the massive military parade has been somewhat downsized. Last year, the usual fly-by of military aircraft over Red Square was cancelled, and this year’s parade only featured one tank. The mechanized column was led by a Second World War-era T-34 tank, a museum piece and a symbol of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

The Soviet Union lost approximately 27 million people during the war, comprising 8.7 million military personnel and 19 million civilians. This figure stands as the highest military death toll of any nation by a significant margin. The Soviet Union spent over $192 billion on the war effort.

The German invasion of the Soviet Union, which started on June 22, 1941, took the country’s leadership and nearly 200 million inhabitants completely by surprise. A blitzkrieg, or “lightning war” against the USSR violated the Molotov-Ribbentrop treaty signed between Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939, which ensured that neither country attacked the other.

The Battle of Stalingrad, fought between 1942 and 1943, was a pivotal moment in the war. The Soviet victory marked the first major defeat of the German army on the Eastern Front, shifting momentum in favor of the Allies. The battle, claiming around two million lives, stands as one of history’s bloodiest battles. It decisively turned the tide against Germany in the Soviet Union, leading to subsequent defensive actions until the Battle of Berlin ended the war.

By 1942, the Soviet Union was producing mass quantities of high-quality armaments east of the Ural Mountains that were out of reach for Germany’s air force. The Soviets also possessed a tremendous overseas intelligence-gathering operation, via the international Communist movement. If the German army had not been tied down in the Soviet Union in a huge battle of attrition that they could not hope to win, Victory Day would have certainly been vastly delayed.