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Putin’s Victory Day parade only featured a handful of leaders, and most seemed reluctant to be there, report claims

Putin Victory Day - Central Asian leadersRussian President Vladimir Putin (L) President of Kazakhstan Kasim Comert Tokayev (R), President of Tajikistan Imamali Rahman (2nd R), President of Uzbekistan Sevket Mirziyoyev (3rd R) in Moscow, Russia on May 9, 2023.

Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

  • Vladimir Putin was joined by a small number of world leaders in Moscow for Victory Day. 
  • Putin sought to portray the Ukraine war as an existential battle for Russia’s survival. 
  • But a US think tank claims there were cracks in the show of support. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin was joined by several foreign leaders for the Victory Day parade Tuesday, in what appeared to be a rare show of international support.

Central Asian leaders Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, and Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon were among those present in Moscow for the event marking the anniversary of the end of World War II, Russian state media reported.

Also present was close Putin ally Viktor Lukashenko of Belarus, along with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. 

Their attendance certainly marked an improvement on last year, when no foreign leaders joined Putin in Moscow for Victory Day, which was held amid international condemnation of Russia’s Ukraine invasion. 

But analysts from the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington DC think tank, believe that not all the leaders were particularly enthusiastic about attending the event.

The last-minute confirmation of the attendance of some of the leaders, which was only reported in local media on Monday, indicated an apparent reluctance to take part in the Kremlin’s show of strength, it said. 

“The late announcement of Central Asian leaders’ attendance likely indicates their reticence to show direct and public support of the war despite Kremlin efforts to project power,” said the ISW. 

Japarov was the only Central Asian leader to confirm his attendance well in advance, accepting his invitation on April 24, Vedmosti reported.

The leaders who attended the parade are all from former Soviet Republics, which gained independence after the collapse of the USSR in 1991.

Ukraine is another former Soviet Republic, and has been treated with escalating aggression by Moscow as it sought to build closer ties with the West, culminating last year in Russia’s brutal invasion. 

Some of the Central Asian leaders who attended the Victory Day parade have been critical of Russia’s invasion, and sought to steer a more independent path from Moscow while apparently seeking not to excessively aggravate the Kremlin. 

Kazakhstan has accepted thousands of Russians who have fled the country fearing conscription, and the Central Asian republics have either criticised Russia’s claim to have annexed swaths of Ukraine, or have not publicly supported it, RFERL reported. 

Read the original article on Business Insider