The Kremlin has denied that President Vladimir Putin planned to declare war on Ukraine and call for a national mobilization on May 9, when Russia commemorates the Soviet Union's World War II victory.
So far, Putin has described Russia's actions in Ukraine as a "special military operation," rather than a war. However, some Western politicians and Russian watchers believe he is planning a major announcement for next Monday, with situations ranging from an outright declaration of war to a declaration of victory.
When asked if Putin would declare war on Ukraine on May 9, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov answered, "It's nonsense."
Peskov also stated that people should not believe rumors about a decision on a national mobilization.
Last week, U.K. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace suggested that the Moscow parade commemorating the defeat of the Nazis and the end of World War II could be used to rally support for a massive mobilization of troops and a renewed push into Ukraine.
One of Russia's most significant national holidays is May 9 Victory Day, which commemorates the enormous Soviet sacrifice in defeating Nazi Germany during the Great Patriotic War.
In the 1941-1945 war, an estimated 27 million Soviet citizens were killed, leaving the Soviet Union devastated and almost every Soviet family in mourning.
Putin claims that the "special military operation" in Ukraine was necessary because the U.S. was using Ukraine to threaten Russia, and Moscow needed to defend itself against the persecution of Russian-speaking people.
Putin has previously used Victory Day speeches to poke fun at the West and show off Russia's post-Soviet military might.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 killed thousands of people, displaced millions more, and sparked fears of the most serious conflict between Russia and the U.S. since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
Putin portrays the conflict as an unavoidable clash with the U.S., which he accuses of endangering Russia by meddling in its affairs and enlarging the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance.
Ukraine claims to be fighting an imperial-style land grab and dismisses Putin's claims of genocide as nonsense.
According to Ukrainian officials, the city center's streets are being cleared of debris, bodies, and unexploded bombs. After Russian forces bombarded the city for weeks under siege, large portions of it are in ruins.
Alyona Shkrum, a Ukrainian politician, told the BBC that she expects things to get more difficult as Russia celebrates its victory day.