Putin’s VE day speech: “he’s got a lot to say, he’s got a lot of nothing to say”; Russian media hacked with anti-war messages; Sweden to decide on NATO membership May 15

Pardon me the quote from Tool’s “Eulogy” in the title. Another phrase I was reminded of was the Dutch expression, “een maat voor niets” (a measure for nothing).

Roland Oliphant, senior foreign correspondent of the Daily Telegraph: “utterly empty of new ideas — but that was not the point” [paywalled; cached copy].

If Vladimir Putin’s February invasion of Ukraine had gone as planned, he would have been reviewing today’s Victory Day parade on Kyiv’s Independence Square – claiming a triumph as glorious, in his view, as 1945 itself. 

Instead, his troops were marching through Red Square in Moscow with a fraction of the hardware they usually display and none of the aircraft – and the comparisons he drew were not between two Victories, but two bloody but righteous struggles that required the country to pull together. 

Mr Putin was always going to compare his current war in Ukraine with the Second World War in a bid to rally the country and the army to his invasion.

But he did not, as some predicted, claim “mission accomplished.” That would have been a distortion too far when even in Mariupol, which he previously claimed to be “liberated” the fight is not over.  

Nor did he use it to formally declare war or announce mass mobilisation

That option is still on the table: it is being publicly debated on federal television, so the public will be primed if the step is taken. 

It is possible that the decision has not yet been taken – there are great political and economic risks involved.

Possibly it will emerge later, in the form of a decree or announcement in the Duma that would not be quite so directly associated with Mr Putin himself. 

Whatever the reason, Mr Putin clearly decided his annual Red Square address, traditionally more of a sermon than a policy speech, was not the moment to shock the nation.

Hackers added their own contribution to the conversation:

Daily Telegraph again:

Hackers temporarily switched the name of every programme on the Russian online TV schedule to highlight Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

The hack came on the day that Vladimir Putin hosted a Victory Day parade in Red Square, Moscow.

Instead of advertising the various Victory Day parades and programmes that are so important to the Kremlin’s propaganda machine, the programme headlines on Russia’s First Channel said: “On your hands is the blood of thousands of Ukrainians and their hundreds of murdered children. TV and the authorities are lying. No to war.”

The programmes affected included children’s TV channels which saw the message “No to War” and and “the authorities lie” flash on the screen in bright white lettering. 

One parent in Tyumen, Siberia, said: “The [TV] provider “delighted” my child with such a message on children’s channels, and then it turned out that the same thing happened on the other channels.

“The message appears in the description of any programme.”

Russian defence ministry channel TV Zvezda was also affected. 

“A cyberattack was carried out on Russian TV broadcasting channels, because of which subscribers could have extremist inscriptions in the broadcast grid,” said MTS in Siberia.

“Now our IT specialists are promptly eliminating the consequences of the hack so that subscribers can receive services and watch TV programs and movies as quickly as possible.”

A viewer called Olga Ivanova told the Daily Mail: “I have NTV Plus satellite TV and the same s— is happening there on every channel.”

Meanwhile, a satirical news channel named “Sputnik Not” offered this exclusive picture of the victory parade.

And, a war that was supposed to stop NATO expansion on Russia’s border is getting longtime neutral countries to seriously consider joining NATO.

To be fair, Sweden has arguably been a de facto NATO member for decades. But I’m starting to wonder if Wile E. Coyote‘s first name was a nickname for Vladimir I hadn’t heard of…

ADDENDUM 1: Former Russian finance minister and Prime Minister (2000-2004) turned opposition politician, Mikhail Kasyanov, comments on the speech

As does Russologist Mark Galeotti on the radio channel of The Times [of London]

One thought on “Putin’s VE day speech: “he’s got a lot to say, he’s got a lot of nothing to say”; Russian media hacked with anti-war messages; Sweden to decide on NATO membership May 15

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