Putin on Victory Day: Russian military to be strengthened – AP
Russian President Vladimir Putin told the annual military Victory Day parade in Red Square on Thursday that the country will continue to strengthen its armed forces.
The parade marked the 74th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. It included about 13,000 servicemen and 130 pieces of military equipment, ranging from a T-34 tank – renowned for its effectiveness in World War II – to lumbering Yars ICBM launch units, according to The Associated Press (AP).
For the second time in three years, the parade did not conclude with an aerial display of helicopters and warplanes speeding above the square. Russian news reports said the cancellation was due to heavy clouds.
Among the guests were recently resigned Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Steven Seagal, the American actor who obtained Russian citizenship in 2016 and later was named a special envoy for humanitarian ties with the United States.
Putin said in his speech that "we have done and will do everything necessary to ensure the high combat capability of our armed forces."
He added: "At the same time, Russia is open for cooperation with all who are ready to resist terrorism, neo-Nazism and extremism."
Dozens of other Russian cities also held parades for the country's most significant secular holiday.
In neighboring Ukraine, which also observes the holiday, outgoing President Petro Poroshenko struck out at Russia.
"For five years, the descendants of the glorious victors over Nazism have defended with arms the freedom of the Ukrainian people and their civilization choice from Russian aggression," Poroshenko said.
Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backs separatist rebels who have been fighting Ukrainian forces in the country's east for the past five years, a conflict that has left over 13,000 dead.
TV actor Volodymyr Zelensky roundly defeated Poroshenko in Ukraine's April 21 presidential runoff.