On Sunday, May 9th, Russia's Victory Day was celebrated with the largest parade that has ever been held in Moscow’s Red Square. It was also the first time that military from the allied forces have participated in the parade.
Among those invited were French pilots from the Normandie-Niemen squadron, along with British soldiers of the Wales Regiment and American forces from the 2nd Battalion 18th Infantry Regiment. There were 11,135 troops, 161 pieces of military equipment, and 127 aircrafts and helicopters in all.
The celebration began at 10am Moscow time with a speech from President Dmitry Medvedev. “In 1945, not only military but also a great moral victory was achieved. A common victory. All peoples of the former USSR struggled for it. Our allies were advancing it,” Medvedev said. “And today, soldiers of Russia, CIS countries and anti-Hitler coalition states will march together triumphantly. A single rank is evidence of our common readiness to defend peace, not to allow the revision of the outcomes of war and new tragedies.”
Then the parade commenced with a past, present, and future format. The first part was a historical tribute as thousands of troops, including veterans, marched proudly, dressed in replica World War II uniforms. The next part included current cadets of Russian military academies and institutes. The parade concluded with a display of the latest and greatest military equipment, such as tanks, rocket launchers, planes, and helicopters, complete with an awe-inspiring airshow. The procession lasted an hour and fifteen minutes, slightly longer than the usual one hour of years past.
“It was an immaculate parade of the Russian troops and the foreign contingent who participated in it,” said Air Commodore Mark McGeown, head of the Royal Welsh Guard. “I think it was an opportunity for us to demonstrate that we remember that our countries were allies in that great fight for freedom; that we stood shoulder to shoulder during those difficult days,” he added.
Victory Day parades involving more than 102,000 servicemen and 200,000 veterans were held in 36 Russian cities. That evening, the skies lit up with vibrant fireworks, music filled the air, and celebrations continued long into the next day.