Russia's parade shows 'shiny' uniforms but 'not reflective of ability to fight'

Russia's Victory Day parade is a show of "shiny" uniforms, that doesn't necessarily reflect the military's ability to fight.

That's according to Samuel Cranny-Evans, a research analyst at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), the defence and security think tank.

The defence expert told Forces News the country's annual 9 May parade – a celebration of Russian victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War – is "a snapshot in time" and is "really hard to read into".

"It's a parade right, most militaries tend to look good on parade in their own way, because that's what it's for," he said.

"The uniforms are clean and shiny, the weapons are all brand new and taken from stores having never been fired, but again it's not really reflective of their ability to project force, their ability to fight on a battlefield, it just shows they can march in line and, pretty much, in time.

"It's all about messaging and the question here really is who are they messaging to. 

"Is it the Russian people, is it the Western media, is it Western politicians, is it the Ukrainians?

"It's very disconnected from the military capability side."

Mr Cranny-Evans added that the Russian military has always been a "second-half military".

Watch: Ukraine - Vladimir Putin blames Russian invasion on Western policies.

"Typically in the first half they come out and things go very badly, and then they adjust," he said.

"Pre-war structures, pre-war illnesses, as the Russians like to call them, get worked out and you get this survival adaptation.

"What we should expect to see is a progressively more capable Russian military emerging in Ukraine.

"There are a lot of signs that… is happening and there are a lot of signs the Ukrainian forces are facing a fight now like nothing they've seen up until this stage."

He added that a picture is emerging from Ukraine that the Russian military does not have to kill Ukrainian troops "because they can concuss them, they can fill their bodies with shrapnel, they can break them psychologically".

"The Ukrainians are beginning to get pulled into ambushes and traps showing that the Russians have learnt from their earlier experiences," he said.

Watch: Russia shows off its military might during Victory Day parade.

He also said there are "multiple reports of Russian engagements on Ukrainian positions within minutes of them setting up", suggesting the Russian intelligence is much more capable.

"All of those aspects begin to add up, they begin to lead to greater attrition, it means that concentrating on counter attacks becomes very dangerous, it means that the Russians can afford to only commit ground forces when it absolutely suits them," he said.

"I would expect that as more and more Russian officers gain experience of combat, as more and more of them get killed doing things that aren't very sensible, the ones that follow will learn and adapt and they will improve their procedures.

"It's obviously a method for getting better at warfare that the West looks at in some kind of horror, but to Russia, it is an output-focused military.

"It's not a very effective military, but it is an output-focused military and if the end result is success in Ukraine at the cost of tens of thousands of Russian lives, fine."