According to US officials, Putin could declare war on Ukraine as soon as May 9.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to formally declare war on Ukraine as soon as May 9, according to US and Western sources, paving the way for the full mobilization of Russia’s reserve forces as they attempt to take eastern and southern Ukraine.

May 9 is celebrated in Russia as “Victory Day,” commemorating the Russian victory against the Nazis in 1945.

According to Reuters, US officials anticipate Putin will use the symbolic significance and propaganda value of that day to announce either a military victory in Ukraine, a massive escalation of hostilities, or both.

According to the source, western diplomats believe Putin will use the day to depart from a “special military operation” with the primary purpose of “denazification,” the Russian government’s name for its conflict in Ukraine.

A formal declaration of war on May 9 might sway public opinion in Russia in favor of the invasion, as well as allow Putin to mobilize reserve forces and recruit conscripts, which authorities say Russia sorely needs as its manpower declines as a result of the war.

Since Russia entered just over two months ago, at least 10,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the fight, according to Western and Ukrainian sources.

“Last week, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told LBC Radio that he believes he will try to move away from his “special operation.” “He’s been creating the groundwork for the day when he can say, ‘Look, this is now a battle against Nazis, and I need more people.’ I’m running out of Russian cannon fodder.’

“I would not be surprised, and I have no information about this,” Wallace continued, “if Putin declares on May Day that “we are now at war with the world’s Nazis and we need to mass organize the Russian people.”

Other alternatives for Putin on May 9 according to Western diplomats include annexing the breakaway eastern Ukrainian provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, making a big push for Odesa in the south, or declaring full authority over the southern port city of Mariupol.

On Monday, May 2, US Ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter claimed the US has “very reliable” intelligence indications that Russia will try to annex Luhansk and Donetsk “sometime in mid-May.”

There are also rumors that Russia is going to create and annex a “people’s republic” in Kherson, in the country’s southeast.

Ned Price, a spokesman for the US State Department, said:

“We’ve seen the Russians really ramp up their propaganda efforts, almost certainly to divert attention away from their tactical and strategic failures on the battlefield in Ukraine,” Price told a State Department briefing.

“That would be a great irony if Moscow used the occasion of ‘Victory Day’ to declare war, which in itself would allow them to surge conscripts in a way they’re not able to do now, in a way that would be tantamount to revealing to the world that their war effort is failing, that they are floundering in their military campaign and military objectives,” Price added.”

“I’m convinced we’ll hear more from Moscow in the weeks leading up to May 9,” Price said. “I’m optimistic that you’ll hear more from the United States and our allies, especially our NATO allies, in the weeks leading up to May 9.”

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