Moscow (AFP) – Russia rolled out its latest military hardware on Moscow’s Red Square on Thursday for the annual parade to mark Soviet victory over the Nazis as President Vladimir Putin begins his fourth Kremlin term.
“Our people fought to the death. Not one country faced such an invasion,” Putin said in a speech as veterans and some 13,000 troops marched past in a perfectly choreographed military spectacle marking 73 years since victory in World War II.
Much of the new military equipment on display has been tested out in Syria, the defence ministry said. Altogether the parade featured 159 types of hardware including 75 aircraft.
For the first time, the parade included drones, as well as a de-mining robot used by the military in Syria’s Palmyra and Aleppo and an unmanned tank.
The major new equipment on display included a Terminator tank designed to be used in war zones involving nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, and a MiG-31 supersonic interceptor jet carrying a high-precision Kinzhal (Dagger) missile.
Putin presented the Kinzhal missile system in March during his state of nation address, saying it could “overcome all existing and, I think, prospective air and missile defence systems.”
“This is a holiday which has always been, is now, and always will be sacred for every family,” Putin said, greeting a watching crowd including veterans decked out in medals on a bright sunny morning.
Around 1.6 million people recognised as World War II veterans are still alive in Russia, the labour ministry said.
Putin poured scorn on those, who he said, are trying to “rewrite history” and downplay the Soviet Union’s role in overcoming the Nazis.
“Today people are trying to erase the feat of our people in saving Europe from slavery, from extinction, from the horrors of the Holocaust,” Putin warned, saying they are trying to “forge, rewrite and misinterpret the events of the war.”
“We won’t ever let them do this.”
Referring directly to the current political situation, Putin warned against a repeat of World War II, saying that “behind new threats are the same ugly traits: egotism, intolerance, aggressive nationalism and claims to be unique.”
“Russia is open to dialogue on all questions of ensuring global security” and is “ready for constructive, equal partnership,” he said in a speech that concluded with shouts of “Hurrah!” from the assembled forces.