Comparisons Russian President Vladimir Putin made between his invasion of Ukraine and the Soviet fight against Nazi Germany point to him preparing Russia for a long war, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
During a video address on Tuesday to officials in Russia’s Pobeda (Victory) Organizing Committee, Putin invoked the sacrifice made in key battles of World War II, which is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War. He started his speech by saying that this year was the 80th anniversary of the most important turning points of the conflict.
He mentioned the battle of Stalingrad which ended with Germany’s surrender on February 2, 1943, and the battle of Kursk, the largest tank battle in history, as well as “the liberation of the Caucasus and the Donbas.”
Putin said “another significant anniversary” was a decree signed in August 1943, on measures “to restore the economy in areas liberated from German occupation” which kickstarted building infrastructure in the country.
He praised the increase in production, construction and industry that took place to help the Soviet Union recover from the war, before segueing into the present day.
“All this, of course, is very consistent with the current situation,” Putin said. “The special military operation continues,” he added, referring to the Kremlin’s description of the invasion.
Putin described how resources had been allocated to the construction of new houses, schools, hospitals, and roads in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, Zaporozhzhia and the Kherson region which he has claimed to have annexed, although does not fully control.
“These direct parallels between the ‘special military operation’ and the Second World War are likely the closest that Putin or any other senior Russian official has come to acknowledging the war in Ukraine as an actual war,” said the ISW on Tuesday.
The think tank said that these parallels aimed at telling Russians that the country was really at war despite being called a “special military operation,” and that Putin was setting “ideological expectations for a prolonged war effort.”
Invoking the glories of yesteryear is a recurring theme for Putin, who during a ceremony on August 23 to mark the Battle of Kursk, condemned the international community for allowing the rise of Nazi Germany and claimed the West had created the conditions for the conflict in Ukraine.
During the speech on the day in which Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin died in a plane crash, Putin also compared the reconstruction efforts and veterans’ assistance during and after the Second World War with the current war in Ukraine.
Newsweek reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry via email for comment.