European officials on Friday claimed that Russia was looking to achieve some sort of a victory in Ukraine by May 9, when Moscow celebrates Victory Day to mark the USSR’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told CNN that Russian troops were feeling “self-imposed” pressure, to finish the military campaign by the aforementioned date with a victory to celebrate.
While Victory Day, over the past several years, has been celebrated by a massive parade through Red Square and an address by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a victory in Ukraine could give Moscow reason to cheer two victories on the day.
That being said, ‘victory’ in Ukraine is a dubious proposition: Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, and although nearly one-and-a-half months have passed, Moscow’s troops have not been able to capture any of Ukraine’s biggest cities.
Days ago, Ukrainian forces recaptured the Kyiv region from Russia, but reports suggest that Moscow’s forces are regrouping to mount a concentrated attack in the eastern Donbas region and southern Ukraine.
In view of the current situation, the officials told CNN that Putin was looking for a regional victory, given Russia’s failure to capture Ukraine.
“Consolidating and trying to at least have something to talk about is clearly in their interest,” one official told the media outlet.
Given the “self-imposed pressure,” the official explained that there was a strong possibility of further mistakes by Moscow, which could compound difficulties already being faced by demoralised and poorly organised Russian troops and tilt the war further in Ukraine’s favour.
However, the officials warned that the growing pressure on Russian troops to secure a victory could lead to further atrocities being committed.
“The stench of these war crimes is going to hang over these Russian armed forces for many years,” one official told CNN.