Russia ignores invasion anniversary

The Bell

The second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 went largely unmentioned in pro-government circles. In the Kremlin and on state propaganda channels, the occasion was largely ignored, while the Russian military chose to focus on the few modest successes its forces had achieved at the front.

  • President Vladimir Putin had nothing to say about the second anniversary of his war. The day before he had made an official address to mark Russia's Defender of the Fatherland day, congratulating servicemen currently on the front line and talking about the introduction of artificial intelligence into military technology. 
  • On Russian TV, the anniversary was barely mentioned. News programs focused on a new package of American sanctions (published to coincide with the invasion anniversary and following the death of Alexei Navalny), clashes between farmers and police in France and the death of the head of Russia’s Supreme Court Vyacheslav Lebedev. 
  • The only reference to the anniversary of the invasion on state TV came in a comment from propagandist Mikhail Leontiyev in his show on Perviy Kanal. In reference to Western leaders visiting the Gostomel airfield near Kyiv, he said: “Ukraine celebrated the second anniversary of the special military operation with ‘second-freshness’ sturgeon,” a Soviet-era phrase used to sell almost-rotten fish at cut-down prices.
  • Russia’s military command also kept quiet about the anniversary. On Feb. 24, the Defense Ministry said Sergei Shoigu had visited the frontline command point for the troops who had recently captured the Donbas town of Avdiivka after months of fierce fighting.

Why the world should care:

The Russian authorities have little to celebrate on the second anniversary of the war in Ukraine. The army's latest success was the capture of Avdiivka, a town in eastern Ukraine that was practically razed to the ground during months of fighting. However, this “victory” was clearly too small to be promoted as a serious achievement on the anniversary of the launch of the invasion.


Support The Bell!

The Bell's Newsletter

An inside look at the Russian economy and politics. Exclusively in your inbox every week.