Ukraine: Putin promises his people “victory”, without defining contours

The Russian leader, who attended a patriotic rally in Moscow, gives no evaluation of the military situation and its outcome.

by Benoît Vitkine (Moscow, correspondent)

The word is on everyone’s lips, repeated like a mantra, a magic formula. At the Tribune du Stade Loujniki de Moscow, Wednesday, February 22, the speakers follow one another. All promise Russia’s “victory”. Inevitable, “as sure as our blood is Russian,” said a uniform soldier. “God and the truth are on our side, we will defeat,” replied a fashionable singer.

A year after the start of “the special military operation”, the rally “to the glory of the defenders of the fatherland” was wanted a great patriotic mass as much as a popular force, with its tens of thousands Participants gathered in an icy cold, flags in hand. No matter if many of them had come motivated by the promise of remuneration (500 rubles, 6 euros) or forced by their employer – even before the start of the rally, thousands of people were already heading for the metro, after to have sent their superiors a photo taken by their mobile phone proving their presence.

Only the images count. And this promise of “victory”, endlessly chanted. Behind this word, however, there is an immense misunderstanding, the most important blindness of the official Russian discourse since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine. This is summed up in one question: what must this Russian victory supposed to be as obvious as it is as well as flashed?

HIATUS difficultly tenable

The day before, during his address to the nation, Vladimir Putin also promised the victory, ten times. The Russian leader did not however give the slightest assessment of the situation on the front, and even less specified under what conditions it will be possible to declare the said victory. By comparison, the objective displayed by kyiv – realistic or not – to restore Ukrainian sovereignty over the whole of its territory is perfectly clear.

“This is the main problem of Putin currently, notes the political scientist Tatiana Stanovaya, of the R.Politik reflection group. He sparked the war on his own, took the country behind him, but he carefully avoided Explain how it was possible to defeat. His recent speeches are often long and detailed on a multitude of subjects, but they do not bring any clarification on this central point. “

This hiatus, hardly tenable after a year of war, appeared in the first weeks of conflict. On February 22, 2022, two days before his troops crossed the border, Mr. Putin exhibited for the first time his double requirement for “demilitarization” and a “denazification” of Ukraine. Officially, these objectives remain those of “the special military operation” triggered in the process, for the “protection” of the inhabitants of the Donbass.

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/Media reports cited above.