Thousands of Russian troops have marched in a huge military parade in Moscow, celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany 70 years ago. Russian President Vladimir Putin used the event to call for "equal security for all states."
President Putin on Saturday presided over the Victory Day parade in Moscow, marking 70 years since the end of World War II in Europe.
Some 16,000 Russian troops marched through Red Square, followed by a showcase of the country's next generation military hardware.
"Our fathers and grandfathers went through unbearable suffering, deprivation and losses," Putin told the assembled troops and veterans.
He stressed that the principles of international cooperation "had been ignored more often in the last decades - the principles which were hard won by humankind following the global hardships of the war."
"We've seen attempts to create a unipolar world," he said in an apparent swipe at the United States, adding that there should be a "system of equal security for all states."
Show of military strength
A highly anticipated feature of this year's event was Russia's cutting edge T-14 Armata tanks, the first model to be built with a remote-controlled gun turret with an automatic loading system. It will be Russia's first battle tank to be deployed for four decades.
A series of new robotic armored vehicles and artillery systems were also among the new weapons on show, while more than 100 military planes zoomed over Moscow's city center.
Snubbed by Western leaders
In a sign of closer ties between China and Russia, a column of Chinese troops took part in the parade. China's President Xi Jinping could also be seen sitting on the podium beside Putin as troops filed past the Kremlin.
In his parade address, Putin acknowledged China's role in the war, saying it had lost "many, many millions of people" just like the Soviet Union. More than 26 million Soviet citizens lost their lives in World War II, 8 million of whom were soldiers.
Other guests included United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, and leaders from India, Egypt, Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
Several Western leaders boycotted the festivities amid tensions over Moscow's actions in eastern Ukraine. US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel opted to stay home, although Merkel is expected to travel to Moscow Sunday for talks with Putin and to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Russia's celebrations take place a day later than those in Western Europe because of a time lag and the late hour at which a surrender was signed. For the first time in 70 years, Ukraine on Friday joined most of Europe in marking the end of World War II on May 8.
nm/jr (AFP, Reuters, AP)