Victory Day, Moscow: A Truly Eastern Affair


‘Victory Day’

Victory day is upon us and Moscow is all geared to host the grand parade celebrating the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany.The Victory Day celebrations may take place on May 8 in Europe but in Russia it is celebrated a day later as the German surrender came after midnight in Russia.

Military parades, concerts, fireworks and memorial services will mark the Victory Day celebrations.

Regarded as the “biggest holiday” in Russia, this year’s Victory Day celebrations are being viewed with greater significant importance.

Victory Day 2015

The Moscow parade at Red Square will see around 16,000 soldiers, 200 armoured vehicles and 150 planes taking part in the historic celebrations. This will reportedly be the biggest Victory Day celebration and display of military hardware since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Russia is going to parade its advanced tanks, heavy weapons and ballistic missiles. This includes the world’s most advanced tank, Armata T-14, which comes with a remotely-controlled turret and an automatic loading system for its gun.

Victory Day: Soldiers march in Red Square

Certainly these Victory Day celebrations will not just enthral onlookers but be subject to careful observation in the West. Given the occasion, has Victory Day revealed to the world a change in Russian attitude? Surely, the size of the military might on display suggests so.

Russia Looking East

Victory Day will also see the boycott by major western allies like US, France, Germany in response to Russia’s alleged forced annexation of Crimea and actions in Ukraine.

With some major leaders from the West expected to boycott the event, the presence of the high-profile leaders of China and India indicates Russia’s strategic move towards strengthening ties with the non-western states.

Victory Day will witness some of Asia’s biggest autocrats such as Uzbekistan’s Islam Karimov, Turkmenistan’s Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un attending the show.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s confirmation to attend the celebrations has irked Ukraine and other central European countries.

Last week in a press conference, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin expressed his concern that Ban Ki-moon’s visit would be sending “completely the wrong message”.

The current conflict in Ukraine certainly complicated matters. Whilst Russian military strength is hardly what the majority of Western Ukrainians want to witness, Victory Day has always held traditional importance to many Ukrainians. Ukraine for a considerable section of the Second World War remained the front line against Nazi invaders and of the 20 million+ Soviet soldiers who perished in the conflict many are believed to have met their fate in the current Ukraine state. Thus, many believe Ukraine played a significant role in the formation of Victory Day.

A senior Russian politician has hit back alleging US of attempting to “isolate” the country by pressuring other EU nations to avoid Victory Day.

The crisis in Ukraine has tensed diplomatic ties within the region and abroad. However, Russia seems quite defiant of the boycott. Russia intends to display its military mettle on May 9, sending across a message of its unchallenged might to the neighbouring nations.

If you like this article you may be interested in “Moscow Hosts Music Marathon”.


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