Putin scrambles to quell dissent as Victory Day celebrations cancelled
Ukraine: John Bolton says Putin’s Russia ‘beyond the pale’
Celebrations for Victory Day in Russia have been cancelled across the country over security fears, according to Russian authorities. The decision was taken by the Kremlin over concerns the event could turn into an opportunity for pro-Ukrainian forces to spark chaos. But some critics say Vladimir Putin fears the celebrations could have turned into a show of dissent against his war on Ukraine.
The celebrations usually include the Immortal Regiment procession, which sees citizens marching with a photo of their loved ones lost in the war.
Russian MP Yelena Tsunayeva said this year the event “will be held in other formats for security reasons”.
According to a news release on the Immortal Regiment of Russia’s website, Ms Tsunayeva said people could place photos of their loved ones lost at war in car windows or on social media instead.
Dmitry Kolezev, a journalist and editor of a liberal news website, claimed people would have “almost certainly come to the Immortal Regiment with portraits of those who died in Ukraine, and the number of recent photographs may turn out to be depressingly large”.
It comes as Russia’s defence chief on Tuesday urged a state company to double its missile output, as a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive looms and both sides in the 14-month war reportedly experience an ammunition crunch.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, speaking at a meeting with top military brass, said the state-owned Tactical Missiles Corporation had been fulfilling its contracts in a timely manner.
But, Shoigu added: “Right now it is necessary to double the production of high-precision weapons in the shortest possible time.”
Analysts have been trying to figure out whether Russia is running low on high-precision ammunition, as its missile barrages against Ukraine have become less frequent and smaller in scale.
The UK Defence Ministry noted in a Tuesday assessment that “logistics problems remain at the heart of Russia’s struggling campaign in Ukraine”.
It said: “Russia does not have enough munitions to achieve success on the offensive.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday described Washington’s latest estimate of Russia’s losses in Ukraine as “spun out of thin air”.
The White House said Monday it now estimated that Russia had suffered 100,000 casualties just since December, including more than 20,000 killed, as Ukraine rebuffed a heavy assault by Russian forces in eastern Ukraine.
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White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the US estimate was based on newly declassified American intelligence. He did not explain how the intelligence community derived the number.
He said: “Washington doesn’t have the opportunity to give any correct numbers. They don’t have such data.”
Later Tuesday, the Ukrainian military reported that Russian forces launched 30 airstrikes, three missile strikes and eight attacks from multiple rocket launchers, resulting in casualties among the civilian population and damage to civilian infrastructure.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said Russia was continuing to concentrate its efforts on offensive operations in Ukraine’s industrial east, focusing attacks around Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka and Marinka in the country’s Donetsk province.
Ukrainian forces, meanwhile, say they are readying their own counteroffensive — and stockpiling ammunition to sustain it along potentially long supply lines.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Monday that the “key things” for the assault’s success were “the availability of weapons, prepared, trained people, our defenders and defenders who know their plan at their level, as well as providing this offensive with all the necessary things — shells, ammunition, fuel, protection, etc”.
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