How will 9 May affect the war in Ukraine?
In his speech on Victory Day Putin has neither officially declared war on Ukraine nor ordered a general mobilisation of the country. Commentaries published immediately before Putin's address reflect how high the expectations were for the day and its impact on the war.
Mobilisation would be risky domestically
Economist Konstantin Sonin explains in a Facebook post why Putin is reluctant to introduce general conscription:
“In my opinion the announcement of a general mobilisation seems unlikely. After 30 years in which army service was effectively voluntary for the more privileged strata of society it would be too bold to conscript hundreds of thousands of young people into a real and unpopular war. Putin and his entourage generally take a cowardly approach, preferring to avoid risks and only attacking those they are convinced are weak. ... On the other hand, when decisions are taken by people as insane and incompetent as they have been in the case of the invasion of Ukraine, anything is possible.”
Declaration of war unlikely
From a military point of view, nothing substantial will change as a result of the Victory Day celebrations, says Ukrainian human rights activist Pavlo Lisyansky on 24tv.ua:
“I don't think Putin will declare war on Ukraine on 9 May. Firstly, by doing so the Russian forces would be admitting that they lost in their so-called 'special operation' and would have to involve the population more because the military failed. ... Secondly, I don't think anything new will happen. The Ukrainian army is continuing to hold out its defence and is even going on the counter-offensive in some places. The occupiers will try to get more active in the south after 9 May and will continue shelling Ukraine.”
Don't underestimate Russia's strength
An official declaration of war by Moscow could have a major impact on the balance of power, Newsweek România warns:
“History has shown that in desperate situations, Russia has the capacity to mobilise and even decide the outcome of a war. Stalingrad is an obvious example. If Russia mobilises a very large number of soldiers, it will be extremely dangerous. The fate of the war could then be decided in its favour. We should not ignore the fact that a declaration of war against Ukraine would allow Russia to activate its alliances, especially the one with Belarus, which could tip the balance.”
Break the spiral of violence
This historic occasion offers an opportunity to end the war, writes Lida Rakušanová in Český rozhlas:
“In the case of Russia and Ukraine, every new war crime increases the danger that a one-man war will turn into a war between nations. Putin is sowing hatred in generations of Russians and Ukrainians. May 9 offers the chance to stop this spiral of hatred. Let us be optimistic, at least for a while, and believe that Putin will not let this opportunity pass by.”