Russia Displays Military Might Amid West Snub

7:44:00 AM
MOSCOW, -- The snub by Russia's World War II allies, including Britain and France, left President Vladimir Putin to mark the day with the leaders of China, Cuba, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

And Mr Putin used his parade address at the event marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War to claim the basic principles of international cooperation were increasingly being ignored.

In an apparent sideswipe at the US, he said: "In the past decades we have seen attempts to create a unipolar world."

Around 16,000 troops took part in the massive parade which showcased Russia's latest military hardware, including the next-generation Armata T-14 tank.

Long-range nuclear bombers were among more than 100 military planes to take part in a flypast over Moscow.

However, there was a glitch during the well-orchestrated event when a missile launcher caught fire.

Footage showed smoke and fire pouring out of the back of the military vehicle.

The Soviet Union lost an estimated 27 million soldiers and civilians during what is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War - more than any other country.

And the Red Army's victory remains an enormous source of national pride and a symbol of unity.

Critics have accused Mr Putin of seeking to exploit the anniversary to bolster his power base and rally support over the Ukraine, by portraying the Kiev government as Nazi sympathisers.

The crisis has seen the West slap sanctions on the Kremlin over the seizure of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among the leaders to stay away from the parade but will fly to Moscow on Sunday to lay a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Soldier, when she will also meet Mr Putin.

The most high-profile guests to attend were the Chinese leader Xi Jinping, United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, and India's President Pranab Mukherjee.

Other leaders to attend included Raul Castro of Cuba, Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

The turnout is in contrast to the 60th anniversary commemorations when Mr Putin hosted the leaders of the US, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

There were also smaller parades held in 25 other Russian cities, involving 25,000 soldiers and even nuclear submarines.

The Russian Army new T-14 Armata tanks drive during the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in Moscow.

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