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Russian Military Parade – 9 May Celebration – Victory Day

Victory Day, 9 May, marks the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945. Today that victory was celebrated with a stellar display of Russia’s military might. Russian tanks and intercontinental missile launchers were paraded through Moscow for the first time since the collapse of the USSR.
“If anyone was having trouble grasping the fact that Russia has an image problem, the sight of intercontinental ballistic missiles rolling across Red Square on Victory Day should have cleared matters up.”
“Russia showcased its military might and youthful new president to the world Friday, as heavy tanks and missile launchers rumbled across Red Square in a Victory Day parade.”

View all of my photographs with Flickr | TimesOnline Photo Gallery | Photos from Tverskaya right next to the parade | Photos from roof-top (great aircraft shots!)
Continue on to read more news stories and an editorial.
As shown on Russian TV:

From CNN:

From home video:

Watch these other videos:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7391793.stm (Raw video)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7391537.stm (Video news report)
Text reports
Russia Parades Its Military in an Echo of Soviet Days
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Published: May 10, 2008
MOSCOW — Nuclear missile launchers and columns of tanks rolled through Red Square on Friday in a display of martial hardware not seen since the Soviet Union’s waning days.
The parade, much smaller than similar commemorations in the Soviet period but laden with significance and mixed messages, marked the 63rd anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, which is observed in Russia as Victory Day, a solemn state holiday.
It was intended both as a tribute to the dwindling ranks of surviving veterans and as a display of Russia’s efforts to revive armed forces made moribund by the Soviet Union’s collapse.
It was also widely described as a sign that the Kremlin wanted to show the world that it had recovered from the embarrassments of the 1990s and that its foreign policy had not softened in a transfer of presidential power this week.
But the goose-stepping footfalls, echoing in front of shop windows bearing products from Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, captured as well the contrasts institutionalized during eight years of rule by Vladimir V. Putin, the former spymaster and president who left office on Wednesday and returned to power as prime minister the following day.
Confident and flush with wealth, Mr. Putin’s Russia is led by men who embrace Soviet symbols and rituals while promising tax breaks and legislation to encourage a growing Russian investor class.
The passing columns were reviewed by the new president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, a lawyer who has spoken of nurturing civil liberties and a climate more conducive to small business, but who ascended to office in an election stage-managed by the Kremlin.
Many of the soldiers were in period dress, wearing uniforms reminiscent of those worn in celebrations that Mr. Putin led in the same place three years ago on the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
This time there was a new president. Mr. Putin, his mentor, stood behind Mr. Medvedev as he addressed the crowd. When the troops began to march by while saluting the dignitaries, the former president stepped forward to receive the salutes at his protégé’s side.
In a sign that suggested that the Kremlin had not yet settled how to interpret the seven decades of Soviet history, Lenin’s mausoleum was temporarily blocked from view by a huge mural of Russia’s tri-colored national flag.
The mausoleum, where Lenin’s embalmed body lies in state, is normally a centerpiece of the square and perhaps the most potent Soviet symbol in the capital. The president and prime minister stood on a reviewing stand erected for the event, their backs to Lenin’s remains as they presided over a ritual created by Stalin.
Mr. Medvedev thanked the aging veterans in the reviewing stands — white-haired men and women in their 80s and 90s, many wearing blazers heavy with medals. Then he spoke of readiness and restraint.
“The history of world wars warns that armed conflicts do not erupt on their own,” he said. “They are fueled by those whose irresponsible ambitions overpower the interests of countries and whole continents, the interests of millions of people.”
He added, “We need to remember the lessons of that war and work every day so that such tragedies never happen again.”
The parade was the first display of armor and nuclear missile launchers on Red Square since 1990, and was followed by a flyover of 32 military planes, including strategic bombers.
The Kremlin’s decision to parade its military hardware has been a subject of competing interpretations, viewed variously as symbolic confirmation of Russia’s pride, or aggressiveness, as a marketing show of Russian arms, and as a nationalistic festival ordered by Mr. Putin, for Mr. Putin.
Mr. Putin insisted earlier in the week that the parade should not be viewed as “saber rattling.” “It is not a warlike gesture,” he said. “Russia is not threatening anyone.”
But it followed a year during which the Kremlin asserted its case against what it regarded as reckless American foreign policies. Mr. Putin has strongly protested an American-led plan to install a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. As tensions rose, Russia’s aging strategic bombers conducted international patrols, entered British airspace and approached American carrier groups on the high seas.
Russian state-controlled television stations have featured extensive coverage of small-scale exercises of Russia’s navy, and of supposedly new weapons systems. Mr. Putin, who firmly opposed the American-led invasion of Iraq five years ago, also endorsed a doctrine of pre-emptive strikes against threats to Russian soil.
As a tribute to veterans and to the irrefutable role and sacrifices of the Soviet Union’s people in defeating Hitler, the events on the square were high spectacle. But the parade, broadcast on television here as a national triumph, also offered sights of the mixed condition of the once vaunted armed forces under Kremlin command.
Several of the infantry units, including marine and airborne units, were staffed with lean and fit young men who marched with bearing and precision. Others included troops who appeared to be in only fair condition, and several of the officers leading formations past the two Russian leaders were visibly overweight.
The United States expressed no alarm over the parade. Russia has become a leading global arms exporter again, but its wares are almost all items designed decades ago. A Pentagon spokesman, echoing a view common among military analysts, had characterized the planned military review as a hollow show of dated gear bearing fresh coats of paint.
“If they wish to take out their old equipment and take it for a spin and check it out,” said the spokesman, Geoff Morrell, “they’re more than welcome to do so.”
MOSCOW – Nuclear missiles and tanks paraded across Red Square today for the first time since the Soviet era but new President Dmitry Medvedev warned other nations against “irresponsible ambitions” that he said could start wars.
Marching bands and 8,000 troops goose-stepped across the square, followed by a huge display of heavy weapons including Topol-M ballistic missiles and T-90 tanks, and a fly-by of warplanes.
Reviewing his first parade as commander in chief, Medvedev warned against “irresponsible ambitions” that he said could spark war across entire continents.
In an apparent attack on US foreign policy and Western backing for Kosovo’s independence, Medvedev also criticised “intentions to intrude in the affairs of other states and especially redraw borders.”
Alongside the new president was his mentor and now prime minister, Vladimir Putin, standing under bright sunshine in a tribune in front of Lenin’s mauseoleum, the Soviet holy of holies that was screened off by a giant hoarding inscribed with May 9, 1945.
The show of strength on the 63rd anniversary of victory against Nazi Germany symbolised Moscow’s growing boldness following eight years of rule by Putin, whose hawkish policies have set Russia at loggerheads with Western capitals.
Medvedev, who was inaugurated on Wednesday, is a close ally of Putin and had been his aide for much of the last two decades.
Many analysts believe that Medvedev, 42, will be a weak president reliant on the support of Putin, 55, who became prime minister yesterday.
Other observers say the untested Medvedev will grow into the presidency, which carries huge powers in Russia – as symbolised by the Red Square parade.
Earlier Putin said the parade was not “sabre-rattling” but “a demonstration of our growing defence capability.” The commemoration came after Washington said yesterday that Moscow had expelled two of its diplomats.
US Defence Secretary Robert Gates dismissed the move yesterday as “just the usual tit for tat” in response to Washington’s expulsion of a Russian spy.
On Tuesday Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell poured scorn on the Moscow parade: “If they wish to take out their old equipment and take it for a spin, and check it out, they’re more than welcome to do so.”
Tensions with the United States have been particularly high over Russia’s pro-Western neighbour Georgia, which has received US backing for its bid to join the Nato military alliance.
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said yesterday that his country and Russia had come close to war “several days ago” after Russia ramped up support for separatists controlling Georgia’s Abkhazia region.
But on the streets of Moscow, the atmosphere was festive for one of the country’s best-loved holidays.
Amid re-runs of World War II films, television stations showed parading soldiers goose-stepping in cities across the country.
Veterans were shown with chests loaded down with medals, while some young soldiers were dressed in World War II uniforms, complete with old-fashioned rifles and red stars on their helmets.
The occasion reflects the trauma of World War II in which millions of Soviet citizens died before driving back the Nazis, but also a large measure of Soviet-style propaganda which airbrushed dark aspects of the story – not least Stalin’s massive wartime repressions.
The reappearance of massive weapons in the capital after a break of 18 years required extraordinary preparations.
Ahead of the parade the cobbles of Red Square were specially reinforced to cope with tanks and other heavy weaponry, while the Kommersant newspaper said nearby subway tunnels had been reinforced to prevent them collapsing.
Twelve air force planes were to ensure clear skies over Moscow with the use of cloud seeding technology.

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