- President Donald Trump on Friday signalled he’s considering attending Russia’s Victory Day parade, an annual military parade and celebration of the defeat of Nazi Germany.
- “It’s a very big deal, celebrating the end of the war,” Trump said to reporters.
- Attending the parade would be highly controversial given the historic level of animosity between Moscow and Washington.
- If Trump accepts Putin’s invitation, it would be a massive public relations victory for the Russian leader.
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President Donald Trump on Friday he’s “certainly” considering accepting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invitation to attend Russia’s Victory Day parade in 2020. Doing so would offer a major public relations victory to Putin at a time of historic animosity between Moscow and Washington.
“It’s a very big deal, celebrating the end of the war,” Trump said to reporters on the annual military parade in Moscow, which commemorates the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. The parade takes place in Moscow’s Red Square on May 9 each year.
The president said he’s “thinking about” joining for the parade, but signalled it could be difficult because it occurs in the midst of the 2020 presidential campaign season. “I would love to go if I could,” Trump said.
The reporter who asked Trump if he’s planning to accept Putin’s invitation referred to the event as the “May Day” parade, which is a reference to International Worker’s Day on May 1 and not the same as Russia’s Victory Day parade. Putin invited Trump to the Victory Day parade in late June, which was announced by the Russian president’s spokesman after the two leaders met on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
Here's Trump saying he's considering attending Rusia's May Day parade.
"President Putin invited me to the — it’s a very big deal! celebrating the end of the war, etc., etc. A very big deal. So I appreciate the invitation… I would love to go if I could." pic.twitter.com/4CJkUhQl8x
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) November 8, 2019
If Trump attended the parade next year, it would be highly controversial.
Steven Hall, a retired CIA chief of Russian operations, on Friday tweeted: “For Putin, this would basically serve as Trump’s approval of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, military actions in Syria, and paramilitary work in Libya. All wrapped up in one nice package.”
Former President George W. Bush attended the parade in 2005, but circumstances were much different at the time. It was the 60th anniversary of the Allied defeat of Nazi Germany, and Russia had not yet gone to war with Georgia, annexed Crimea, or interfered in the 2016 US presidential election. With the US still at odds with Russia over these matters, among many others, it would be awkward for a US president to attend a military parade in Moscow.
The Victory Day parade is a remnant of the Soviet era, with Joseph Stalin presiding over the first such celebration in 1945.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union 1991, the parade stopped occurring for several years until President Boris Yeltsin revived the tradition in 1995.
But Putin, a former KGB spy, has placed special emphasis on these parades and uses them as a means of flexing Russia’s military muscles.
The Soviet Union frequently tapped into nostalgia and pride about its victory in WWII as a means of shoring up national pride and reasserting its legitimacy. Putin has continued the tradition of the Victory Day parade in the same vein. The Russian leader delivers a speech at the celebration each year, often taking jabs at the West in the process.
This year’s parade included about 13,000 Russian soldiers and 130 pieces of military equipment, including tanks. No major foreign leaders were present at this year’s ceremonies.
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