Russia celebrates the Soviet Union May 9 anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II today with a parade in Moscow.
Many analysts believe Putin had hoped to use Victory Day to declare a military victory in the conflict. But ten weeks after the invasion, Moscow has failed to conquer Kyiv and is making plodding progress in the eastern Donbas region.
Instead, experts and Western officials now believe Putin may mark the holiday by declaring a more limited victory in the southern city of Mariupol, which has been under bombardment from Russian airstrikes for weeks, and in the Donbas, which Russia first invaded in 2014 and where Moscow has concentrated most of its forces in recent weeks. Taking Mariupol is key to creating a land bridge connecting Russia to Crimea.
But looming over the holiday is the fear Putin will use the day to double down on the invasion and announce a full-scale mobilization or call-up of reservists to replenish his depleted forces in Ukraine. Already, Russia has reportedly ramped up its offensive in eastern Ukraine ahead of Victory Day.