Russian soliders at the 77th “Victory” Parade on Monday. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images) Among the Kremlin’s many regrets about the conduct of this war one might be that expectations were allowed to build up around the annual parade to mark the end of the Great Patriotic War on 9 May. The link first emerged in March when there were reports that this had been set as a deadline for victory, or at least some notable military achievements, that could be celebrated by Vladimir Putin. But in the absence of any significant achievements, the date began instead to be approached with a different sense of foreboding – as a moment when Putin would be obliged to escalate. This might involve turning the ‘special military operation’ into a full-scale war, with the accompanying mobilisation of reservists and conscripts, or announcing an intent to annex Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson, or, especially alarming, raising again the prospect of nuclear war.
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