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Russia displays military might in WWII 'Victory Day' parade

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Soldiers march at the Victory Day parade marking the 70 anniversary of the World War II at Red Square in Moscow on Saturday. A PTI Photo.

MOSCOW (PTI): Russia on Saturday staged a grand military parade here to commemorate the 70th anniversary of its victory over Nazi Germany in the presence of several world leaders, including Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, even as Western powers boycotted the event due to a standoff over Ukraine.

Nearly 10,000 soldiers, including an Indian Army contingent and China's People's Liberation Army (PLA), took part in the parade on the iconic Red Square here which lasted for over 90 minutes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin witnessed the parade along with Mukherjee, Chinese President Xi Jinping and UN Secretary General Ben Ki-moon.

Western powers like the US, Russia's World War II allies Britain and France have boycotted the event over Kremlin's "meddling" in Ukraine.

The parade on Red Square showcased cutting edge weapons such as the next-generation Armata T-14 tank and advanced military aircraft.

An estimated 27 million Russian soldiers and civilians died in World War-II. The Red Army's victory continues to remain a great national pride.

May 9, which is celebrated as the 'Victory Day', unites Russians from all walks of life irrespective of political sympathies and draws huge crowds, including war veterans, their widows and family members gathered at the Red Square to witness the event.

Other Presidents attending the event included Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, Raul Castro of Cuba, Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Jacob Zuma of South Africa.

After the parade, all the heads of the state attending the event, including Putin and Mukherjee, walked down from the Red Square to the Kremlin, waving to the massive gathering.

The 70th anniversary celebrations stand in contrast to the festivities a decade ago, when Putin hosted the leaders of the United States, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

The grand parade was held even as the Ukraine crisis continues, with the West slapping sanctions on Moscow over Russia's seizure of Crimea and alleged support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

United States President Barack Obama has snubbed the celebrations, as have the leaders of Britain and France.

Smaller parades in 25 other cities also took place during the day involving 25,000 soldiers.

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