Putin Oversees Show of Russian Military Mightإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Newly-inaugurated President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday presided over Russia's annual display of military power as missiles and thousands of troops paraded across Red Square to mark World War II victory.
Two days after Putin's swearing-in, over 14,000 servicemen marched alongside nuclear-capable missiles to commemorate the 67th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.
Putin watched from the stands with his new Prime Minister and former president Dmitry Medvedev, who had been confirmed in his post a day earlier, in a job swap scheme first announced in September.
"Sixty-seven years ago Nazism was crushed, a terrible and cynical force," Putin said in a speech from a tribune beside the Lenin Mausoleum, from on top of which Soviet-era leaders viewed the parade.
The last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, was among those present.
Columns of around 100 units of military hardware rolled across the square including Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missiles and the vast Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missiles.
"Only a powerful army and navy will allow Russia to fend off the challenges and threats of the 21st century," said the announcer.
Finally, five Mi-8 transport helicopters carried the flags of the armed forces and the Russian tricolor over the square and St Basil's Cathedral.
There were no planes in a subtly toned-down parade, with troop numbers also down from last year's numbers of around 20,000.
In rousing rhetoric, Putin reinforced Russia's key role in winning World War II and argued that this gave it a "moral right" to stick up for its position in international relations today.
"Russia consistently carries out a politics of strengthening security in the world and we have a great moral right to stand up for our positions in a principled and determined way," he said.
"Because it was our country that took on itself the chief onslaught of Nazism and met it with heroic resistance, went through the harshest trials, defined the outcome of the war," he said.
"We will always be true to your feat," he told veterans.
"And that means we have a future and we will do all that we can to make it peaceful and safe," he said, to three "hurrahs" from the forces.
On a chilly overcast morning, many of the medal-decked veterans were wrapped up in raincoats and the cobbles remained slippery from earlier rain, although the skies cleared in time for the start.
The air force confirmed its jets had taken to the skies to drive away rain clouds in what has become usual practice for major events in the Russian capital.
Air force spokesman Vladimir Drik told the ITAR-TASS news agency that four planes had taken off at around 6:00 am (0200 GMT) with special cloud-seeding chemicals on board.
"The planes work at a height of 8,000 meters (26,500 feet) with the aim of having a influence on the clouds," he said. ITAR-TASS made clear that the chemicals used were "ecologically clean".
Russia revived the Soviet-style parade on Red Square in 1995 after the break up of the Soviet Union. But it only brought back the symbolic spectacle of tanks rolling into the square in 2008.
Some are calling for the parade to be cut back or held less frequently.
"The parade along with all the rehearsals undoubtedly costs a lot of money and the question always comes to mind: would it not be better to spend it on apartments for the veterans?" Vedomosti business daily wrote in an editorial.
It called the parade an element of propaganda, aimed at showing that Russia "retains the greatness of a superpower (and) imperial ambitions."