In Other News – Putin’s Victory Day Speech – 5/12/2022

May 12, 2022

Putin’s Victory Day speech carefully avoided any indication of escalation, but also didn’t mention any end to the fighting. Putin’s much-anticipated Victory Day speech on Monday revealed nothing new to thousands of Russian servicemen in Red Square and the rest of the world watching for escalatory language. The speech, which focused heavily on Russian operations in Donbas, espoused the same propaganda and rhetoric that Putin’s been using for years, wrongfully asserting that the people of Donbas needed Russians to rescue them. What he didn’t say revealed that Putin has no clear plan on an exit strategy. Instead, this week Russian troops were still trying to claim Mariupol, diverting European gas for their own use, and retreating from the region of Kharkiv to redeploy elsewhere ‒ a tacit admission that Russia is finding it exceedingly difficult to occupy Ukrainian cities.

Moscow continues to blame the United States and NATO for Russia’s incurring losses, with the former president of Russia warning that NATO military assistance for Ukraine increases the likelihood of a “direct and open conflict between NATO and Russia.” But this threat hasn’t deterred those who stand against Russian brutality, and Moscow’s atrocities are further solidifying its opponents ‒ especially as Ukrainian prosecutors prepare to launch the first war crimes trials of the Russian conflict. Notably too, this week Finnish leaders announced they’d seek NATO membership for their nation right away, and Sweden could be next.

The United States and its European allies will continue to provide Ukraine with aid and certain intelligence regardless of Moscow’s disdain. EU nations have taken a hard stand against Russian oil, but Hungary is preventing an EU Russian oil ban. It’s also uncertain how China will continue to respond and there are reportedly rumblings among policy makers within China questioning the value of a weak Russian partner.

As the war drags on, further grinding down Ukraine and Russia, the trajectory of global energy costs, food shortages, and general economic instability will influence how countries respond to Moscow’s aggression and force them to reassess their own geostrategic positioning. This strategic ambiguity is prompting widespread and often indirect system effects, as evidenced by recent political conversations regarding a restructuring of international oil markets around a cartel of consumers, as well as the near collapse of the Egyptian, Sri Lankan, and Lebanese economies.