In perhaps a good sign that the world is not about to witness nuclear Armageddon, the expected display of nuclear posturing at Russia's Victory Day parade on Moscow's Red Square marking the WWII defeat over Nazi Germany was largely absent, even with President Putin's speech more moderate than expected.
For starters, Putin's "Doomsday plane" - which was much hyped in Western media - failed to make an appearance. The Ilyushin Il-80 plane is specially modified to be Russian leadership's mobile command center in the scenario of a nuclear war.
So:— max seddon (@maxseddon) May 9, 2022
– No declaration of war or mobilization
– No threats to nuke anybody
– No sign of Valery Gerasimov
According to reporting in The Daily Beast, "It was reported that the flyover of the plane was canceled because of bad weather, however footage showed Moscow enjoying a pleasant and sunny spring day and weather services suggested there was wind of just 3 mph." And further:
The windowless Ilyushin Il-80 plane, also known as “the flying Kremlin,” had been expected to to be escorted by nuclear-capable jets that included the Tu-96 “Bear” and Tu-160 “White Swan.” Max Seddon, the Financial Times’ respected correspondent in Moscow, tweeted that the flyover had been canceled.
The Financial Times' correspondent observed of the Russian president's Victory Day speech, "And that’s it for Putin, whose speech was only moderately saber-rattling – almost solely comprised of justifications he’s already made for the war in Ukraine and devoid of nuclear threats."
Last week the Ilyushin Il-80 'Doomsday Plane' reportedly flew over Moscow as part of a rehearsal:
Also, nothing of the expected formal declaration of war against Ukraine was issued, nor was there an assessment of progress in reaching Russia's objectives. However, included in these justifications for invading Ukraine was the assertion that the West was "preparing to invade our land."
Some pundits are saying that Monday's humbler than expected show of force suggests Russia's weakening power due to fierce resistance it continues to encounter in Ukraine...
With fewer soldiers and tanks - and a cancelled air force display - Russia’s Victory Day parade inadvertently shows off country’s shrunken power. My report https://t.co/Hm0tnZWjQW pic.twitter.com/IG7SQps2K6— Mark MacKinnon (@markmackinnon) May 9, 2022
Putin said, "NATO didn’t listen to us… they were preparing to attack Crimea… a clash with neo-Nazis was inevitable… Russia struck back preemptively against aggression." He spelled out that the West was "preparing for the invasion of our land, including Crimea."
"Defending the Motherland when its fate is being decided has always been sacred," he told assembled veterans, troops, and officers. "Today you are fighting for our people in Donbas, for the security of Russia, our homeland."
“The death of every soldier and officer is painful for us,” he said further. “The state will do everything to take care of these families." He ended the speech on this: "For Russia, For Victory, Hurrah!"
Meanwhile also on Monday Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said he wouldn't allow Russia to coopt allied victory in WWII. “Today we celebrate Victory Day over Nazism. We are proud of our ancestors who together with other nations in the anti-Hitler coalition defeated Nazism. And we will not allow anyone to annex this victory. We will not allow it to be appropriated,” he said. This is after he marked an early Ukrainian day of remembrance on Sunday, as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a surprise visit to Kiev.