Russia's war in Ukraine

Several Russian regions have canceled their May 9 Victory Day parades and other celebrations, citing security concerns over organizing large gatherings.

The governor of the Belgorod region said this year’s Victory Parade would not take place so as not to “provoke” Ukrainian forces with a significant concentration of military personnel and equipment.

“No one will take risks,” Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said during a live broadcast on his official page on Russia social media Vkontakte in early April.

Authorities in the western Kursk region made a similar decision for “security reasons.”

“Today, the safety of fellow countrymen is a priority, so it was decided to cancel holding a parade and launching fireworks on May 9,” Kursk region Gov. Roman Starovoit said on his Telegram channel Tuesday.

Key background: Both Belgorod and Kurst regions held Victory Day parades in 2022, which has analysts suggesting the decision may have been made due to shortages of military equipment, notably tanks and other armored vehicles. This week, Western officials said Russia was “going backwards” in terms of the equipment it is using in Ukraine, explaining they’ve seen Moscow deploy tanks originally built after World War II.

In Crimea, the Russian-installed head of the region, Sergey Aksyonov, also announced the cancellation of the customary festive events on May 1 and May 9, including exhibiting the military parade and holding the Immortal Regiment march — a procession in memory of the generation that fought in World War II.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said ensuring citizens’ safety is “the main and only priority” when asked about the cancellations last week.

Peskov said the main parade at the Red Square in Moscow “is being prepared for and planned to be held,” adding that enhanced security measures will be in place.