Pomp and propaganda as Putin attends Moscow Victory Day parade

Parade in Moscow, 9 May 2024. Photo: Maxim Shipenkov / EPA-EFE

Parade in Moscow, 9 May 2024. Photo: Maxim Shipenkov / EPA-EFE

Military parades were held across Russia on Thursday to celebrate Victory Day, the national holiday that celebrates the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany.

Despite snowy weather, some 9,000 people took part in the ceremony on Moscow’s Red Square. At least a thousand of the participants fought in Ukraine, according to Telegram channel Smotri, and the Moscow parade also showed off more than 70 pieces of military hardware.

Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Friday that 25 Russian cities would host Victory Day parades. He estimated that 150,000 people and 2,500 types of military equipment would be involved in the festivities.

Vladimir Putin attended the parade on Red Square. He was flanked by World War II veterans including a colonel and a sniper, and he made a speech expressing support for Russian servicemen in Ukraine. He also charged the West with trying to “distort the truth about World War II” as it would “prevent them from carrying out their colonial policies”.

Putin also told the crowd that during the first years of World War II the USSR had “fought Nazism alone, while all of Europe worked for Hitler”. He failed to mention the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, the violation of which eventually forced the Soviet Union to enter the war in 1941.

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