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Russia, US celebrate victory over Nazis on Red Square

Last updated on: May 10, 2010 16:31 IST

Russia, US celebrate victory over Nazis on Red Square

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For the first time in history, troops from World War II's western allies matched steps with Russian forces on the historic Red Square, marching together to mark the 65th anniversary of their victory over Nazi Germany.


Image: A group of Russian military jets fly over St Basil's Cathedral
Photographs: Mikhail Voskresensky/Reuters
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Soldiers from Britain, France, Poland and the United States joined 10,500 Russian troops and military contingents of former Soviet republics at the Victory Day parade on Red Square, Russia's biggest military display since the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Image: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks
Photographs: Denis Sinyakov/Reuters
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"The presence of foreign troops in Red Square -- once the heart of the Soviet Union -- was a highly symbolic gesture, demonstrating how far the rivalry of the Cold War has been pushed aside," BBC said in its V-Day report for the Russian capital.

Britain was represented by 76 soldiers from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, wearing their trademark bright red tunics and tall bearskin caps, as troops from the four North Atlantic Treaty Organisations countries marched on the Red Square for the first time.


Image: People carry a 44-meter banner made of 516 small flags created in Russia's Siberian settlements
Photographs: Ilya Naymushin/Russia
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France was represented at the parade by the Normandie-Niemen squadron raised in Russia during the war, and Poland was represented by 75 soldiers and officers of the tri-services guard of honour.

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said in a speech that the lessons of World War II "urge us to show solidarity".

"Peace is still fragile and it is our duty to remember that wars do not start in an instant, it is only together that we shall be able to counter modern threats," he said.


Image: Russian military aircraft fly over Red Square
Photographs: Denis Sinyakov/Reuters
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The US was represented by a detachment from the 2nd Battalion, 18th Regiment which linked up with the Soviet troops on the Elbe River in Germany in 1945.

This was the largest display of military might by Russia since the Soviet collapse in 1991.

A total of 161 tanks and missiles rolled through the Red Square and 127 aircraft presented an impressive fly-past.


Image: Russian fighters and a flight refuelling tanker fly in formation over the two-headed eagle
Photographs: Alexander Natruskin/Reuters
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For the first time it displayed six types of weapon systems, including the Pantsir-S1 and Buratino air-defence systems, the Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile, the Yak-130 trainer jet and the Mi-28 and Ka-52 helicopters.

The aircraft included Tu-95MS Bear strategic bombers and supersonic Tu-160 Blackjacks, Tu-22M3 Backfire long-range bombers and Il-78 aerial tankers, which flew straight to the Red Square from various airbases across the country.


Image: Russian soldiers drive armoured personnel carriers
Photographs: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters
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Russia celebrates victory over Nazis

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The 72-minute parade was watched by a galaxy of nearly 30 foreign leaders including German chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese president Hu Jintao.

Several foreign diplomats present on the Red Square said it was significant that former allied forces that defeated the Nazis during WWII are together on the 65th anniversary of the ending of the war. 


Image: World War Two veterans march along a street in the centre of St Petersburg
Photographs: Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters
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Nearly 5.5 crore people had died during World War II, of which almost 2.7 crore were citizens of former Soviet Union, mainly Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian president Silvio Berlusconi had cancelled their visits due to the European Union currency crisis.


Image: Russian World War Two veterans receive a flower from a boy in front of the Bolshoi Theatre
Photographs: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters
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The Western allies mark Victory in Europe Day each year on May 8, but Russia celebrates Victory Day on May 9 as the German surrender happened late in the night in Berlin, when it was already May 9 in Moscow.

A section of Russians had reacted negatively to the proposal of a joint parade, objecting to the presence of NATO soldiers on the historic Red Square.


Image: Fireworks explode above Moscow's Kremlin and the Moskva River
Photographs: Mikhail Voskresensky/Reuters
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"Sixty five years ago, Nazism was defeated and a machine that was exterminating the whole humanity was halted," Medvedev said.

"There was blood and tears. There was one choice -- either victory or to become slaves. The war made us a strong nation," he said.


Image: Fireworks explode above the Yenisei River
Photographs: Ilya Naymushin/Reuters
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