Russia’s annual Victory Day parade conducted in Moscow is normally an impressive show of their military strength. The event is a remembrance of Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II. The country celebrated 78th Victory Day on Tuesday. But this year’s parade was unlike any other in recent years. The parade showcased Russia’s vulnerability and military weakness rather than its might.
The parade was lacking in grandeur. There were far fewer troops and equipment on display as compared to previous years. Normally, more than 10,000 pair of boots march the route to face President Putin as they pass by, but this year only around 8,000 troops took part in the event. Usually, a formation of fighter jets flies over the square in a grand display, often accompanied by helicopters and other aircraft. This year, there were none. Only a single WWII vintage T-34 tank was present for the parade which usually includes a lengthy parade of military hardware. Also, 51 vehicles participated in the parade in comparison with 131 last year. For the first time in years, the parade ended in an hour.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin addressed the parade on Red Square, saying “a real war” has been unleashed against Russia and the world is at a “turning point”. He added that “Western elites” were provoking conflicts. He tried to link Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with the struggle against Nazism during World War II. He called for Russia to be victorious: “For Russia, for our armed forces, for victory! Hurrah!”.
Foreign representatives often travel to Russia to witness the parade, usually from the Middle East and Africa, but this year, only the leaders of the countries formerly in the Soviet Union – Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Belarus and Armenia – were present.
Western analysts have suggested the decision to limit the parade was likely made to conceal the losses suffered by Russia’s armed forces since the invasion of Ukraine in February last year. Parades in some other cities were also cancelled. Russia scaled back the event citing security concerns following the attempted drone attacks on Kremlin last week by Ukraine. This is also the second Victory Day that Russia marks without any major victories on the battlefield in Ukraine.