Amid Chaos, Russians Celebrate Victory Day

by
Reuters
Putin says those who beat fascists must not be forgotten.

Victory Day

Tanks rumbled across Red Square and fighter jets screamed overhead on Friday in Russia's biggest Victory Day military parade in years, fuelling patriotic fervor as President Vladimir Putin rallies his people over the Ukraine crisis.

Thousands of goose-stepping troops, motorized artillery and ballistic missile launchers paraded past Putin under the Kremlin's red walls in a show of military might, while jets, helicopters and bombers flew in cloudless skies over Moscow.

State television called it the biggest such parade in 20 years on the holiday honoring the World War Two victory over Nazi Germany, a day which stirs national pride more than any other in Russia.

Putin sought to maximize the surge of patriotism by also staging big parades this year in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, following its annexation from Ukraine.

But in a break from tradition reflecting the East-West standoff over Ukraine, Moscow and Kiev did not stage joint marches of their countries' sailors in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based.

Relations between Moscow and the West are at their lowest ebb since the Cold War over the crisis in Ukraine, a fellow former Soviet republic.

The crisis has raised international concern that Russian troops could intervene to stop deadly clashes between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine's east and southeast.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March after a pro-European government took power in Kiev following the ousting of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich.

Despite the tradition of Russia and Ukraine celebrating May 9 together, Ukraine's new pro-Western officials banned parades in the capital Kiev, fearful they could be targeted by pro-Russian "provocateurs" hoping to discredit the government.

Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, after attending a ceremony in Kiev's St Volodymyr's Cathedral, highlighted how the relationship had changed.

"It turned out that 69 years ago, we, together with Russia fought against fascism and won. History is repeating itself but in a different form," he said.

While Russia had stood alongside Ukraine in the past, "now Germany, Britain and the U.S. are standing shoulder to shoulder with us".

Here are some images from the Victory Day commemoration:

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A man holding a child dressed in Soviet army uniform speaks with an armed pro-Russian separatist during events to mark Victory Day in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk.

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A woman holds a child dressed in Soviet army uniform near a Soviet era tank.

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A woman holds a portrait of a former Soviet serviceman.

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Russian servicemen march during celebrations to mark Victory Day in the Crimean port of Sevastopol.

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Russian military planes fly above the Kremlin, with the Ivan the Great Bell Tower seen in the foreground.

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Russian servicemen march during the Victory Day Parade.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (front 2nd R), Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (front R) and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (front C) watch the Victory Day parade in Moscow's Red Square 

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