May 14, 2023

After-Parade Report: Russian Victory Day Vehicle Numbers Decreasing for Second Year in a Row  

Last year, the CIT team, together with volunteers, had already counted military vehicles participating in regional Victory Day parades and managed to cover 20 cities. This year we have analyzed footage of 56 parades. Thus, we were able to examine almost every major parade that took place in Russia on May 9.

The main Russian parade on the Red Square was held without tracked vehicles for the first time in decades, which triggered a new wave of talks about Russia’s military vehicles issues (which certainly exist). But, as we wrote last year, the regional parades provide a more representative dataset.

As can be seen on the graphs, the downtrend in the total number of vehicles continues: in the year 2021, prior to the invasion, more than 2000 vehicles took part in the parades, but in 2022 the number plummeted to less than 1300 units, and in 2023 it barely exceeded 900. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that the drop is largely due to the cancellation of some parades — out of a total of 56 cities, 9 opted not to hold the event in 2023. Most of these cities (6) are located in the Southern Military District where decline was the most apparent, from 336 vehicles in 2022 to 157 in 2023. In the Western Military District, the drop was also quite noticeable — more than 100 vehicles or 25% of last year’s total. This is largely due to the Moscow parade falling 52 vehicles short of the 2022 number. At the same time, in the Central and Eastern Military Districts, the decline turned out to be quite negligible.

In terms of different types of military vehicles, we will single out air defence systems — contrary to last year, the decrease was quite noticeable this time, likely due to numerous UAV attacks on infrastructure facilities inside Russia. The number of artillery pieces, both tube artillery and MLRS, was also in decline, but not as steep as in 2022. The trend for tanks and armored fighting vehicles remained the same, and even reversed for MRAPs and IMVs. The number of non-combat vehicles almost didn’t change (specifically command, control and communications equipment, radar, electronic warfare, engineering equipment and logistics vehicles). Meanwhile, the number of various missile systems and unarmored vehicles has slightly increased.

To sum this up, we can confidently say that the downtrend in the total number of vehicles displayed at the parades remains strong. At the same time, the shortage of equipment has not yet reached the level when there is literally nothing to showcase during such events. Based on this, it can be assumed that the abandonment of the tradition of displaying tracked vehicles during the Moscow parade was dictated not by their shortage — if necessary, the vehicles could be found, even in expense of parades in other cities — but mainly by political reasoning (the presence of modern armored vehicles at the 2022 parade, combined with rather modest successes at the front, had resulted in criticism from the "patriotic public").

For those who is interested in detailed analysis, here is a link to our report.