Sunday, May 9, 2010

NATO troops join Moscow Victory Day parade

Russia's Victory Day ceremonies held Sunday in Moscow included troops from four NATO countries for the first time. About 1,000 soldiers from the United States, Britain, France and Poland marched alongside Russian troops through Red Square to mark the 65th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War. In total, more than 11,000 soldiers converged as Russia's military might was put on display — more than 120 aircraft, intercontinental ballistic missile launchers and tanks from the Second World War era.
"Today at this solemn parade, the soldiers of Russia, the states of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] and the anti-Hitler coalition march together," President Dmitry Medvedev said in his address to the troops. In the week leading up to Victory Day, Medvedev several times raised Russia's frequent complaint that other countries denigrate or misconstrue the Soviet Union's contribution to the Second World War, in which more than 26 million Soviets are estimated to have died, including more than 8.5 million soldiers. But he mentioned the issue only in passing on Sunday and the address reflected his aim of reducing Russia's confrontational image. Foreign leaders in attendance included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, China's Hu Jintao, Israeli President Shimon Peres and acting Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, whose predecessor died last month in a plane crash in western Russia along with many of Poland's political and military elite. Italy's Silvio Berlusconi and France's Nicolas Sarkozy had been expected to attend, but stayed home in order to be available for possible developments in Europe's financial crisis.

The U.S. army's 2nd Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment troops march in Moscow's Red Square during the Victory Day Parade, which commemorates the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany.

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