Russia Victory Day parade in pictures as Vladimir Putin puts on show of strength

Thousands of Russians took part in a Victory Day military parade to mark the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

Russian president Vladimir Putin waved to spectators and gave a speech on Monday, in which he attempted to justify the deadly invasion of Ukraine he launched on 24 February.

These pictures from Moscow show Soviet-era tanks and armed servicemen parading through Red Squre. Ranks of personnel – most holding guns and some waving Soviet and Russian flags – marched in unison while a band played for the crowd.

More than 65,000 people had been expected to take part in the parade – amid the country’s continued assault on its neighbouring nation.

The Russians also showcased a huge intercontinental ballistic missile launcher and other weapons systems.

Putin – who reportedly walked with a limp and had his legs covered with a blanket – was accompanied by officials including the uniform-clad defence minister Sergei Shoigu.

He also greeted veterans and his supporters who were seated to watch the spectacle and wave small flags with the letter Z – which symbolises support for the Russian military.

The parade is held every year. But, this year it has taken place after thousands of Ukrainians have been killed during the ongoing invasion and more than five million people have left Ukraine as refugees – leading Russia to become a pariah internationally.

The president urged his army towards victory in Ukraine, saying the West had been “preparing for the invasion of our land, including Crimea” – a claim disputed by Western countries including the UK.

Parades would have taken place in 28 cities across Russia, involving 65,000 people, 2,400 items of military hardware, and more than 400 aircraft – the Kremlin has said.

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