The annual event, which marks the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, has grown to unprecedented levels under Vladimir Putin’s patriotic presidency, and this year it took on added significance following his brutal invasion of Ukraine.
In a speech in front of his ministers and thousands of troops, Putin blamed the West and Nato for the situation in Ukraine, claiming - without mentioning any evidence - that the invasion was a “pre-emptive strike” in the face of a planned invasion of Russian land.
Addressing the phalanxes of elite Russian troops, he said the campaign in Ukraine was needed to avert “a threat that was absolutely unacceptable to us (that) has been methodically created next to our borders”.
“The danger was rising by the day,” he claimed, adding “Russia has given a pre-emptive response to an aggression” in a “forced, timely and the only correct decision by a sovereign, powerful and independent country”.
Victory Day parades took place in 28 Russian cities involving 65,000 people, 2,400 items of military hardware and more than 400 aircraft.