Recent reports claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin may officially declare war with Ukraine as early as next Monday. Russia is currently referring to the invasion as a special military operation. Officially declaring war would, under Russian law, allow for the full mobilization of Russia’s reserve forces and the drafting of conscripts.
“I think he will try to move from his ‘special operation,’” British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told LBC Radio last week. “He’s been rolling the pitch, laying the ground for being able to say, ‘look, this is now a war against Nazis, and what I need is more people. I need more Russian cannon fodder.’”
According to NATO, western intelligence agencies have estimated Russia’s losses since the February 24th invasion to be at least 7,000 dead, with the US estimating some 10,000 Russian soldiers dead and the UK putting the number at 15,000.
Wallace added that he “would not be surprised, and I don’t have any information about this, that he is probably going to declare on this May Day that ‘we are now at war with the world’s Nazis and we need to mass mobilize the Russian people.’”
Next Monday, May 9, is Victory Day, recognized in Russia as the day commemorating the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945. Russian President Vladimir Putin has justified his invasion of Ukraine with claims that his goal is to eradicate the Nazi influences. Such a claim would serve as a powerful motivation for Russians, as in the war against the Nazis in World War II, the losses of the Soviet Union from all related causes were about 27,000,000, both civilian and military. The German army occupied Ukraine in September 1941; however, Nationalists in western Ukraine were among the most enthusiastic Nazi collaborators.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Monday there is “good reason to believe that the Russians will do everything they can to use” May 9 for propaganda purposes.
“We’ve seen the Russians double down on their propaganda efforts, probably, almost certainly, as a means to distract from their tactical and strategic failures on the battlefield in Ukraine,” Price said at a State Department briefing.
“I’m quite confident that we’ll be hearing more from Moscow in the lead up to May 9,” Price added. “I’m quite confident that you will be hearing more from the United States, from our partners, including our NATO partners, in the lead up to May 9 as well.”
Other options that Russia could enact for May 9 include annexing the territories of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, making a major push for Odesa in the south, or declaring complete control over the southern port city of Mariupol. There are also indications that Russia could be planning to declare and annex a “people’s republic” in the southeastern city of Kherson.