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Putin pledges to strengthen military might

Putin pledges to strengthen military might

May 10th, 2019 by Associated Press in International News

A honour guard takes position during the Victory Day military parade to celebrate 74 years since the victory in WWII in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, May 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

MOSCOW—Russia will keep strengthening its armed forces, President Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday, speaking at the annual military Victory Day parade at the Red Square in Moscow with celebrants, soldiers and military equipment.

The parade marked the 74th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany. It included about 13,000 servicemen and 130 pieces of military equipment, ranging from a T-34 tank—renowned for its effectiveness in World War II—to lumbering Yars intercontinental missile launch units.

For the second time in three years, the parade did not conclude with an aerial display of helicopters and warplanes speeding above the square due to heavy clouds and concerns about storms.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, holds a portrait of his father Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin, in front of him, as he walks among other people carrying portraits of relatives who fought in World War II, during the Immortal Regiment march through Red Square celebrating 74 years since the victory in WWII in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, May 9, 2019. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, holds a portrait...

Putin said later that he regretted the aircraft could not perform but added "there's no need to risk the safety of the pilots and the people on the ground."

Among the guests were recently resigned Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Steven Seagal, the American actor who obtained Russian citizenship in 2016 and later was named an envoy for humanitarian ties with the U.S.

"We have done and will do everything necessary to ensure the high combat capability of our armed forces," Putin said in his speech. "At the same time, Russia is open for cooperation with all who are ready to resist terrorism, neo-Nazism and extremism."

In the afternoon, an estimated half a million people streamed down one of Moscow's main thoroughfares, many holding photos of relatives who fought or suffered in the war. The Soviet Union is estimated to have lost 26 million people in World War II, including 8 million soldiers.

Dozens of other Russian cities also held parades for the country's most significant secular holiday.

In neighboring Ukraine, which also observes the holiday, outgoing President Petro Poroshenko struck out at Russia.

"For five years, the descendants of the glorious victors over Nazism have defended with arms the freedom of the Ukrainian people and their civilization choice from Russian aggression," Poroshenko said.

Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backs separatist rebels who have been fighting Ukrainian forces in the country's east for the past five years, a conflict that has left over 13,000 dead.

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