The Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Russia will keep strengthening its armed forces, President Vladimir Putin promised Thursday, speaking at the annual military Victory Day parade that flooded Red Square in Moscow with celebrants, soldiers and military equipment.
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 intercontinental missile launch units.
For the second time in three years, the parade did not conclude with an aerial display of helicopters and warplanes speeding above the square due to heavy clouds and concerns about storms.
Putin said later that he regretted the aircraft could not perform but added “there’s no need to risk the safety of the pilots and the people on the ground.”
Among the guests were recently resigned Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Steven Seagal, the U.S. actor who obtained Russian citizenship in 2016 and later was named a special envoy for humanitarian ties with the United States.
“We have done and will do everything necessary to ensure the high combat capability of our armed forces,” Putin said in his speech. “At the same time, Russia is open for cooperation with all who are ready to resist terrorism, neo-Nazism and extremism.”
In the afternoon, an estimated half a million people streamed down one of Moscow’s main thoroughfares, many holding photos of relatives who fought or suffered in the war. The Soviet Union is estimated to have lost 26 million people in World War II, including 8 million soldiers.