News ID: 90045
Publish Date : 09 May 2021 - 22:56
MOSCOW (Dispatches) -- President Vladimir Putin reviewed Russia’s traditional World War Two victory parade on Sunday, a patriotic display of raw military power that this year coincides with soaring tensions with the West.
The parade on Moscow’s Red Square commemorating the 76th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two featured over 12,000 troops, more than 190 pieces of military hardware, including intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, and a fly-past by nearly 80 military aircraft.
Putin, who has been in power as either president or prime minister since 1999, traditionally watches the display, with Soviet war veterans from a review platform.
This year’s parade precedes parliamentary elections in September and comes at a time when Moscow’s relations with the West are acutely strained over everything from Ukraine to the fate of Western-backed blogger Alexei Navalny.
The United States and Russia have expelled each other’s diplomats in recent months in a series of retaliatory moves and Moscow and EU member states have been involved in a similar tit-for-tat diplomatic dispute.
Sunday’s parade followed a massive show of Russian military force near the borders of Ukraine and in Crimea, which joined Russia in 2014, and an uptick in fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian government forces.
Moscow said the build-up, which alarmed the West, was a training exercise in response to activity by the NATO military alliance and Ukraine. It has since ordered a withdrawal of some troops.
Smaller military parades were planned on Sunday in cities across Russia, in Crimea, and at Russia’s Hmeymim airbase in Syria.
Addressing the parade, Putin vowed that Russia will "firmly” defend national interests and denounced the return of "Russophobia”.
"The Soviet people kept their sacred oath, defended the homeland and freed the countries of Europe from the black plague,” Putin told the gathered crowd.
"Russia consistently defends international law. At the same time, we will firmly defend our national interests to ensure the safety of our people,” Putin said.
The Russian leader also denounced what he called a creeping return of ideologies of the time, when "slogans of racial and national superiority, of anti-Semitism and Russophobia, became ever more cynical.”
During Putin’s two decades in power, Victory Day parades has taken on increasing importance in projecting Russia’s renewed military might.
A survey this week by state-run pollster VTsIOM showing that 69% of Russians view it as the most important holiday on the calendar.

* Comment: