© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin waves as he leaves after the Victory Day parade in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, on June 24, 2020. REUTERS / Maxim Shemetov
MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin on Sunday discussed Russia’s traditional World War II Victory Parade, a patriotic display of brute military might that coincides this year with mounting tensions with the West.
The parade in Moscow’s Red Square on the 76th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II included over 12,000 soldiers and more than 190 pieces of military equipment, including ICBM launchers, and a flyby of nearly 80 military aircraft under cloudy skies.
Putin, who has been in power either as President or Prime Minister since 1999, stood next to Soviet war veterans on a review platform set up in Red Square.
“Unfortunately, there are again attempts to get many things out of the Nazis’ ideology, those who were obsessed with a delusion about its exclusivity. And not just (by) all kinds of radicals and international terrorist groups,” Putin said in what seemed a widespread one To be denouncing the West, but what the Kremlin said was aimed at the rise of neo-Nazism in Europe.
“Russia will always uphold international law, but at the same time we will firmly protect national interests (and) guarantee the security of our people.”
This year’s parade precedes the parliamentary elections in September and comes at a time when Moscow’s relations with the West are acutely strained on issues ranging from the conflict in Ukraine to the fate of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
The United States and Russia have expelled each other in a series of retaliatory acts over the past few months, and Moscow and EU member states have been embroiled in a similar diplomatic battle.
Sunday’s parade follows a massive demonstration by Russian forces near the borders of Ukraine and in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Kiev in 2014, and an increase in fighting in eastern Ukraine between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces.
Moscow said the buildup, which alerted the West, was a training exercise in response to the activities of the NATO military alliance and Ukraine. It has since ordered some troops to be withdrawn.
Smaller military parades took place on Sunday in cities across Russia and in the annexed Crimea, as well as at the Russian air base in Hmeymim in Syria.
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