President Trump’s critics have compared his planned July 4 celebration in the nation’s capital — which will feature tanks, flyovers by jets including Air Force One, as well as a pyrotechnics show — to something you might see in Russia, rather than the United States.
But Russia’s state-run media found the idea laughable.
Journalists on Rossiya 1′s popular “60 Minutes” TV show mocked the military equipment that will appear at the “Salute for America” on Thursday, claiming that the tanks and other armored vehicles being towed into Washington had “paint peeling off” and required “adhesive tape.”
Footage of American tanks in Washington rolled across the studio’s screens as co-host Yevgeny Popov declared sarcastically, “The greatest parade of all times is going to be held today in Washington, that is what our Donald Trump has said. The American president announced he would show us the newest tanks."
Popov then claimed that, “these are Abrams and Sherman tanks, used during World War II and withdrawn from service in 1957.”
Trump had previously asserted that both those models of tanks would be used, but in reality, the event is expected to feature two M1A2 Abrams tanks, a pair of Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and an M88A2 support vehicle. The Sherman will not make an appearance.
Adding to her colleague’s commentary, “60 Minutes” co-host Olga Skabeyeva, claimed that “the paint on these vehicles is peeling off. There are no cannons, and their optics have been glued on with adhesive tape.”
She also claimed that “Americans are allowed to hold a parade because theirs is democratic, but we are not allowed because ours is chauvinistic” and implied that the condition of the tanks and other armored vehicles was less of a priority for Trump than “that the parade takes place with much fanfare.”
Earlier on Thursday, Skabayeva tweeted images of military vehicles being brought to Washington, writing “Putin’s America” beside an emoji crying from laughter.
For Russians, who are accustomed to annual nationwide displays of military might, Trump’s event on Thursday isn’t impressive, according to Michael Kofman, an expert on Russia and the former Soviet Union at the Woodrow Wilson International Center.
Each year on May 9 — the day Russia celebrates victory over the Nazis in World War II — grandiose parades are held in Moscow’s Red Square and across the nation. President Vladimir Putin watches from the bleachers facing the square, as the country shows off the Kremlin’s latest flashy military hardware.
But Russia has had its share of embarrassing malfunctions and breakdowns during its own celebrations. In 2015, a brand-new tank that Russians bragged was “fearsome” and “ultra-advanced,” broke down in the middle of the parade. Engineers could not get the tank moving again.
To make matters worse, after the breakdown, an event official announced on a loudspeaker to tell the crowd it was “planned” so they could demonstrate military vehicle evacuation. But the military towing vehicle’s attempt to remove the crippled T-14 was unsuccessful, and the rest of the parade continued to march past the scene.
Still, “Russia will look for any opportunity to troll the United States,” Kofman said. “From their perspective, what they’re going to see [in Washington] is a fairly neat, static military display rather than a parade approaching their scale, or even parades held in Europe."
The scathing sarcasm by the Russian media adds to criticism of the vitriol the president is facing for his event back home.
Trump has long hoped to throw a military parade in the nation’s capital, The Washington Post has reported, and had been impressed by a Bastille Day display while on a visit to France in 2017.
The focus on military technology and the addition of a VIP section for Republican donors and supporters of the president has led to accusations that the White House is politicizing the holiday.
It also comes with a steep price tag. A typical Fourth of July celebration on the Mall usually costs the National Park Service about $2 million, according to former Park Service deputy director Denis P. Galvin. To throw the “Salute to America,” the department has diverted at least $2.5 million to cover the cost, The Post reported, and that transfer may only cover a fraction of the full expense.
A much more forceful critique of U.S. policy toward Russia took place on July 4, as U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr. held a lavish reception at his Moscow residence to celebrate American independence.
About 50 people gathered to protest U.S. sanctions outside the front gates. Their chants could be heard as Huntsman delivered his speech to a large crowd of taco- and burger-munching guests, lauding American values and “recognizing the rights of all voices, including those with dissenting opinions.”
The protesters are workers at automaker GAZ, owned by sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Hoisting signs saying “The Americans have taken us hostage” and “We are friends not enemies,” the workers shouted “Save GAZ!” The tycoon was sanctioned last year by the U.S. Treasury for actions that “advanced Russia’s malign activities," allegations he denies.
“American Independence Day celebrates people fighting for their freedom. We are also fighting, for our right to work, and for our company to survive,” said Evgeniy Morozov, chairman of the GAZ Workers’ Council.