Diplomatic and Military Affairs

Russia celebrates victory over Nazi Germany with vast parade

Updated: 2011-05-10 07:55

(China Daily)

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 Russia celebrates victory over Nazi Germany with vast parade

Russian military personnel wait before taking part in a parade in Red Square on Victory Day in Moscow on Monday to celebrate the 66th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany. Alexander Natruskin / Reuters

Russia celebrates victory over Nazi Germany with vast parade

MOSCOW - Russia marched 20,000 soldiers and its most advanced missiles across Red Square on Monday in a parade marking victory in World War II and reinforcing the country's belief in its Soviet-era might.

A well-rehearsed 1,500-piece orchestra set the tone to the procession by booming out festive marches as President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin watched from a podium in front of Lenin's mausoleum.

"The further these years are removed, the deeper our understanding of the heroic exploits of our military generation - its bravery, willpower and self-sacrifice," Medvedev said in remarks broadcast live across the nation.

"You decided the fate of World War II," he told the small group of veterans in attendance. "Today we mark the holiest of our holidays and thank you for our freedom."

The 66th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany began with jets seeding the clouds around Moscow to stave off any rain and culminated in a display of the latest line of Topol-M missiles - the pride of Russia's nuclear defenses.

The Kremlin resumed the tradition of rolling out its most feared weapons for the annual event in 2008 at a time of renewed confidence coinciding with a booming economy and a sense that Russia had recaptured its global prestige.

Those parades continued through the subsequent global financial crisis and Russia's cautious recovery from it has left some wondering whether the scale of the festivities was still worth the price.

Medvedev brushed aside those skeptics as he downed an obligatory shot of vodka and shared a simple meal of buckwheat with a small group of World War II veterans on the eve of the parade.

"Sometimes I come across the opinion that we roll out all this equipment and spend these resources in waste," Medvedev told the veterans.

"But watching these parades, people see that we have an efficient army that has capable equipment, that the army can perform real combat missions," he said. "Parades play an enormous instructional role in our country."

Putin has promised to spend 20 trillion roubles ($718 billion) over the next ten years to renew Russia's armaments.

Analysts say the bulk of Russia's arms are upgraded versions of weapons made 20 years ago.

"These systems were developed 20 years ago, and they are produced in miniscule quantities today," military analyst Alexander Golts said in a recent commentary.

Other military reforms aimed at boosting the number of professional soldiers will change the fabric of the army to avoid a demographic crisis that is eating away at the number of conscripts called to mandatory service every year.



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