Vladimir Putin’s Victory Day parade is a sign that Russia is preparing its people for a heavy loss in its war against Ukraine, a former NATO commander has said.
What should have been a spectacular display of Russia’s military might came down to the “extraordinary” sight of a lone Soviet-era T-34 tank rolling down the highway.
Moscow said events were scaled back as a result of security concerns over what it claimed was a recent attempted Ukrainian attack on the Kremlin.
However, Bretton-Gordon military consultant Hamish said the unique tank symbolized the beating Moscow has taken as the conflict has raged.
speaking to the independentthe former commander of the First Royal Regiment, said: “I subscribe to the view that the Russians are setting up their people for failure.
“The parade was a great parody of a desperate tyrant clinging to his fingerprints – a Ukrainian boot might as well be the end of it.”
The military expert said “things are at a turning point” in Russia as the Kremlin is now unable to control social media and Putin’s reputation as a “big winner” has been destroyed.
He said: “All the mothers of those hundreds of thousands of men who are being slaughtered are beginning to understand what is happening.
“Ultimately, the big red army has really failed Putin. His violent rhetoric has been found to be a big paper tiger.”
According to leaked US intelligence documents posted online last month, Russia reportedly suffered between 189,500 and 223,000 total casualties, including between 35,500 and 43,000 killed in action and between 154,000 and 180,000 wounded.
This compares to 124,500-131,000 total casualties for Ukraine, including 15,500-17,500 killed in action and 109,000-113,500 wounded in action, according to an assessment compiled by the US Defense Intelligence Agency.
Russia has also lost 2,300 of its most advanced T72 and T80 tanks, according to estimates by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in February.
“His army is being absolutely decimated,” De Bretton-Gordon said. “They have no first-aid kit left. Everything is going wrong.”
Explaining why Russia is punching a hole through its munitions, he said: “The Ukrainians are using artillery on precision targets, but the Russian military is just firing mass munitions with no effect and they can’t sustain those numbers.”
Moscow’s anticlimactic Victory Day Parade also took place against the backdrop of increasingly difficult relations between Wagner’s boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Kremlin.
The leader of the pro-Putin Russian mercenary group had threatened to withdraw his troops from Bakhmut after claiming Moscow failed to supply his men, resulting in catastrophic losses.
On Saturday, Russia finally admitted that Ukraine had launched an assault north of Bakhmut with more than 1,000 troops and as many as 40 tanks, a scale that would amount to the biggest Ukrainian offensive since November.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said troops in one area had moved back to regroup in more favorable positions near the Berkhivka reservoir. But Prigozhin was quick to refute this statement, saying: “What Konashenkov described, unfortunately, is called ‘a defeat’ and not a regroupment.”
Commenting on the public military dispute, Mr. De Bretton-Gordon said: “The discussion between Prigozhin and the Russian military is incredible. This kind of thing is usually not allowed.
“The logistical heart of the Russian army is being strangled. Putin’s building is crumbling. It’s hard to see how the Russians can get anything positive out of this.”