Russia tweaks Victory Day parade as part of Ukraine campaign

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia held its final rehearsal on Saturday for an annual parade marking Soviet victory in World War Two, where its military might will be showcased amid Moscow’s campaign in Ukraine.
To mark the 77th anniversary of victory in what Russia calls the Great Patriotic War, thousands of troops will march through Red Square in Moscow, followed by tanks, armored vehicles and missile launchers.
Monday’s Victory Day parade comes in the third month of Russia’s “military operation” in Ukraine despite predictions of a quick victory.
The parade became an annual event after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and rose to prominence during President Vladimir Putin’s two decades in power as a show of military force.
Like every year, Putin is expected to deliver a speech during the parade. Some Western officials say he could declare all-out war on Ukraine or announce a nationwide mobilization.
The Kremlin dismissed this as “nonsense”.
Since sending troops to Ukraine on February 24, Russia has announced that it is carrying out a “special military operation” to “denazify” the country.
The term is loaded in Russia, successor to the Soviet Union, which lost 20 million people in the war against Nazi Germany.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, 77 aircraft will take part in the flypast, including the rarely seen Il-80 Doomsday aircraft capable of withstanding a nuclear attack.
Eight Mig-29 fighter jets will fly over Red Square forming the letter Z – a symbol of Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine.
On the ground, Russia will display its nuclear-capable hardware, including the Yars intercontinental nuclear missiles and the Iskander short-range ballistic missile systems.
The Kremlin said no foreign leaders were invited to attend the parade because it was “not a jubilee year”.
Also on May 9, parades are held on a smaller scale in dozens of cities across the country, as well as the so-called ‘Immortal Regiment’ march, which involves people carrying pictures of veterans or their dead family members. at war.
This year, participants in the processions are also encouraged to bring photos of those who died in combat in Ukraine.

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