Whoever likes to take pictures of oversized hats, veterans full of medals and kids playing with tanks should go to a Victory Day celebration. Every 9th of May since the 1945 capitulation of Nazi Germany the fallen are remembered and the military power of the country is on display. Even if not all the post Soviet countries still indulge in large military parades the celebration is heartfelt since almost every family lost one or more relatives during WWII.
In the Armenian capital Yerevan the celebration, marking the 70th anniversary, were not different apart from few but interesting details revealing the complex geopolitics of Southern Caucasus. While Serzh Sargsyan was attending the revamped celebration in Moscow, russian fighters and helicopter paraded over the sky of Yerevan at the sound of the Armenian and Russian anthem, remembering the close connection between the two countries. Russian military, with their 102nd base in Gyumri, have a big role in boosting the Armenian defense, they patrol the border with Turkey and assure air superiority with their MIG-29. Interestingly the base is by air supplied through Azerbaijan, a country formally at war with Armenia because of the dispute on the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Russian military planes are not authorized to fly over the more convenient route above the northern Armenian neighbor Georgia since the latter claims two parts of its former territory, Abkhazia and South-Ossetia, are currently occupied by Russia.
It is not surprising then that Victory day in Moscow with its massive display of weaponry gets increasingly politicized with countries attending and other boycotting it. The Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev went, the Georgian one, Giorgi Margvelashvili, didn’t. Not too far from the complex region of Southern Caucasus the President Petro Poroshenko, following the russian intervention in Ukraine, took the draconian measure to celebrate the Victory Day as in European Union one day earlier, on the 8th of May. The Victory against Nazism is absolutely the same but meaningfully, due to different protocols signed and time zones, Soviet Union and the Allies never agreed to celebrate it on the same day.
Yes, it’s complex and even more, this was just a brief summary!