The U.S. is warning that Russian President Vladimir Putin may formally declare war on Ukraine on May 9, a major national holiday celebrating victory over Nazi Germany in WWII. Other reports have come in that state the end of the Russian invasion is planned for the same date. Again, as has been the case throughout this conflict, the disinformation coming from all sides has made impossible to know exactly what’s happening on the
State Department spokesman Ned Price revealed Monday the government has “good reason to believe that the Russians will do everything they can to use” the holiday for justification of war. The Kremlin continues to assert that the invasion of Ukraine is a “special operation” to “ne-nazify” and demilitarize the country while ending conflict in two Russian-recognized republics in the Donbas.
The announcement would enable the full mobilization of the country’s reserve forces and be timed to take advantage of the symbolic importance of “Victory Day,” as May 9 is known in Russia. Putin also launched the invasion of Ukraine on the day after “Defender of the Fatherland Day,” another major military celebration in the country.
A formal declaration of war, besides the patriotic symbolism, could mean extending conscriptions for soldiers already in the war and calling up reservists and possibly veterans.
The declaration of war would redirect the entire Kremlin narrative of a “special operation.” It is risky in that it could be seen domestically as an admission that the “operation” has not gone according to plan.
A US official told a Pentagon briefing Monday that Moscow’s military effort is largely “anemic,” observing that Russian forces “move in and declare victory, withdraw their troops,” and then the Ukrainians take it right back. This, however, seems more part of Russia’s plans, as they surround the Donbas region in what Western media is reporting as a retreat. The assault from all sides on the Donbas region has shown a focus by Russian forces on removing entrenched Ukrainian military forces from the region.
It is also believed that, with the May 9 holiday looming, Putin may declare the annexation of the eastern breakaway territories in the Donbas of Luhansk and Donetsk, both of which were recognized as independent when the invasion of Ukraine unfolded. The U.S. reports having “highly credible” intelligence that this dramatic move is pending.
There are also many signs that Russia will announce the annexation of a “people’s republic” in the southeastern city of Kherson, which has been occupied for weeks.
Time will tell what turns out to be true in the fog of war. But May 9 is just around the corner; so, we will soon find out exactly what Russia’s intentions are in Ukraine, if U.S. intelligence is to be believed.