Russian armed forces have paraded in central Moscow to mark the 71st anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two.
Some of Russia’s latest military hardware was on show, including the RS-24 Yars long-range nuclear missile.
Fighters, heavy bombers and helicopters flew over Red Square, including types combat-tested in Syria, where Russian aircraft are helping government forces. The march past included Russia’s new National Guard.
The National Guard will be armed with new AK-74M machine guns and will be tasked with fighting terrorism and organised crime. Those operations are currently the domain of interior ministry Omon and Sobr special forces.
The parade involved 10,000 military staff, 135 armoured vehicles and 71 aircraft.
Victory Day (9 May) is an occasion for the Kremlin to stir up patriotic feelings, as Russians remember the sacrifices made in World War Two. Russia is ploughing billions of dollars into modernising its military, amid tension with Nato over the conflict in Ukraine. So the annual parade also shows off Russian military might for an international audience.
For the first time a contingent from the Russian space forces joined the parade – officers and cadets from a military academy that produced famous Soviet cosmonauts, including Yuri Gagarin and German Titov.
The heavy armour included new Russian anti-aircraft missile systems – the S-400 and Pantsir – as well as the Iskander medium-range missile. The S-400 is currently protecting Russia’s airbase near Latakia in Syria.
Addressing the armed forces, President Vladimir Putin praised the wartime feat of millions of Soviet citizens, who “demonstrated the true strength of our nation, its unity, triumphant spirit and patriotic devotion”. He also called for a “non-bloc system of international security” – reiterating Russian opposition to Nato, without mentioning the Western alliance by name.
There was an acrobatic display by Sukhoi Su-25 dive bombers – planes used by Russia to attack rebels in Syria. The Su-25s trailed clouds of smoke in the Russian red-white-blue colours.
After the spectacular parade a vast crowd of people thronged the streets of Moscow on a march called “The Immortal Regiment”, commemorating their relatives killed in World War Two. In Russia it is called “The Great Patriotic War”. Among them was President Putin, holding a photo of his father, who was wounded in combat.
More than 23 million Soviet soldiers and civilians died in the war – the heaviest toll among all the countries which fought.