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Russia displays military might on 66th Victory Day parade

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MOSCOW (PTI): About 20,000 soldiers marched through the historic Red Square followed by the rollout of Russia's latest military and nuclear hardware as the country marked on Monday the 66th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

The Victory Day parade was watched by President Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the top leadership of the country.

War veterans and foreign diplomats were also invited to watch the parade, which was inspected by the country's civilian defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov in the traditional Soviet style by driving up to each unit in the Brezhnev-era black ZIL convertible limousine.

For the first time at Monday's parade the Russian servicemen displayed their new smart field uniforms capable of dodging night-vision devices, with head gears replaced with berets.

In the parade televised live by the main Russian TV channels, Russia also for the first time showed its quick reaction special troops in the US-type desert uniform, signalling its preparedness to cope with the challenges emerging from the volatile Central Asia after the NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan.

In the rollout of over 100 pieces of military hardware including Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missiles and T-90 main battle tanks, the country also displayed for the first time its mobile Pantsyr-1 gun-missiles air defence systems designed to protect high value aerospace defence assets like S-400 aerospace defence missiles.

"Our duty is to safeguard peace achieved by the Great Victory," Medvedev said addressing the nation from the Red Square rostrum.

In the war against Nazi Germany 26.6 million Soviet people, including over 8.5 million Red Army soldiers had died, not leaving a single family unaffected in the former USSR.

Medvedev vowed that the modernisation and development of the Armed Forces will continue to remain a key priority for the Russian leadership.

The President also sent V-Day greetings to the leaders of the former Soviet republics, who rubbed their shoulders in defending their common homeland at that time, the Kremlin said.

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