Russia parades military might for Victory Day

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The Independent Online

Female police cadets marched in lockstep with tens of thousands of soldiers across Red Square yesterday in Russia's annual Victory Day display of military might, while President Dmitry Medvedev said the country is committed to peace and global stability.

The parade in Moscow marks the surrender of Nazi Germany in the Second World War and is the centrepiece of Russia's most solemn secular holiday. It commemorates the Soviet Union's enormous sacrifices in the war and asserts the potency of its modern military. Mr Medvedev was jointed by Prime Minister Vladmir Putin, top, at the event. Anna Chapman, above left, the Russian spy deported from the United States last year, also attended the parade in which 20,000 troops strode in precision formation through the vast square outside the Kremlin and decorated soldiers, above right, showed off their badges of honour.

More than 100 pieces of mobile military hardware, from armoured personnel carriers to Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, were also on display. The parade concluded with a squadron of helicopters carrying flags overhead.

The armed forces suffered from funding shortages and morale problems in the early years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but the parade put forth the image of a spit-and-polish and vigorous military, with an emphasis on discipline and precision. "The state will continue to do everything to guarantee the dignity of military service, to actively upgrade the armed forces so that the troops will have the most modern equipment," Mr Medvedev said.