[Ed. – Simply no way to think of this as contemplative commemoration. It’s Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini, in real time.]
As Ukraine’s crisis rumbled on with pro-Moscow rebels pushing ahead with independence votes, President Vladimir Putin praised Russian patriotism and loyalty to the state.
“This is a holiday when all-conquering patriotic force triumphs, when we all feel especially strongly what it means to be true to the Motherland and how important it is to be able to stand up for its interests,” Putin told massed troops to shouts of “Hurrah! Hurrah!”
Russia’s annual parade celebrating victory over the Nazis held special resonance this year amid the crisis in Ukraine, which has seen Russia annex Crimea and fighting in pro-Moscow areas in the east where separatists are threatening to break away.
Similar Victory Day celebrations were planned for later Friday in Sevastopol, with Russian media reporting that Putin could make a triumphant appearance at the Crimean port.
As dozens of helicopters and planes soared in the bright blue sky over Moscow, thousands of troops marched alongside tanks, mobile missile systems and armoured vehicles to the sound of a brass band.
In contrast to the display of military hardware on Red Square, Ukraine planned muted Victory Day celebrations in a bid to avoid violence.
The head of Kiev’s city council banned large-scale public gatherings or parades in the capital, fearing that the veterans could be attacked by “Russian provocateurs”.