This year, Russia’s annual May 9 celebrations to commemorate the Soviet Union's victory against Nazi Germany will not include the traditional "Immortal Regiment" march where Russians commemorate their fallen.
The reason for canceling it was that Russian authorities "were highly likely concerned that participants would highlight the scope of recent Russian losses," the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its recent intelligence update.
On April 22, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported that Russia had lost 185,730 troops in Ukraine since the beginning of its full-scale invasion on Feb. 24 last year.
Russia doesn't disclose its losses in the war against Ukraine. In September, the Russian defense ministry said that the Russian military lost nearly 6,000 people in Ukraine.
The Russian service of BBC has been carrying out their own count. As of April, they were able to confirm that 20,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine.
The Immortal Regiment march that was canceled is typically a mass event throughout Russia, where processions of people carry photos of their relatives who perished during World War II. The organizers of the movement, who started it in 2011, have since complained that Russian officials hijacked it for their own political gains.
The U.K. Defense Ministry has pointed out that the report of the march’s cancelation follows Yevgeny Prigozhin — the founder of the Wagner Group, Russia’s most high-profile mercenary outfit — publicly questioning whether there are “actually any ‘Nazis’ in Ukraine, going against Russia’s justification for the war.”
“The Russian state is struggling to maintain consistency in a core narrative that it uses to justify the war in Ukraine: that the invasion is analogous to the Soviet experience in the World War II,” the ministry said.