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Russia Celebrates WWII Victory Over Germany

Russian soldiers march during the Victory Parade marking the 70th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, in Red Square in Moscow, Russia on Saturday.
Alexander Zemlianichenko AP
Russian soldiers march during the Victory Parade marking the 70th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, in Red Square in Moscow, Russia on Saturday.

(From left) Venezuela's President's wife Cilia Flores, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russian President Vladimir Putin, unidentified man, China's President Xi Jinping, Mongolia's President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other officials take part in a wreath laying ceremony.
Maxim Shemetov AP
(From left) Venezuela's President's wife Cilia Flores, Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russian President Vladimir Putin, unidentified man, China's President Xi Jinping, Mongolia's President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, Chinese first lady Peng Liyuan, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other officials take part in a wreath laying ceremony.

Russian army planes fly over the Red Square during the Victory Parade.
Ivan Sekretarev AP
Russian army planes fly over the Red Square during the Victory Parade.

Russian Army T-14 Armata tanks drive towards Red Square to participate in the annual Victory Day Parade.
Sean Gallup Getty Images
Russian Army T-14 Armata tanks drive towards Red Square to participate in the annual Victory Day Parade.

Participants walk in a march honoring Soviet soldiers of WWII, carrying portraits, in Sevastopol, Crimea on Saturday.
Alexander Polegenko AP
Participants walk in a march honoring Soviet soldiers of WWII, carrying portraits, in Sevastopol, Crimea on Saturday.

Halo helicopters take part in the Victory Day Parade in the Red Square.
Pool EPA /Landov
Halo helicopters take part in the Victory Day Parade in the Red Square.

Russian Emergencies Ministry members march during the Victory Day parade in Tula, Russia.
Ria Novosti Reuters /Landov
Russian Emergencies Ministry members march during the Victory Day parade in Tula, Russia.

The new Russian Armata T-14 tank shown during the Victory Day military parade in the Red Square in Moscow, on Saturday.
Yuri Kochetkov EPA/Landov
The new Russian Armata T-14 tank shown during the Victory Day military parade in the Red Square in Moscow, on Saturday.

A Victory Day parade through Moscow's Red Square marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, in which Soviet Russia lost an estimated 24 million soldiers and civilians – more than any other combatant.

The huge formations of soldiers and military equipment filing past the Kremlin were billed as the largest parade of its kind since the collapse of the USSR.

The parade included about 200 vehicles and a fly-by of 150 airplanes and helicopters. As The Telegraph noted ahead of the celebrations in Moscow: "Russia will also use the parade to publicly unveil its new Armata T-14 tank ... [Organizers] will be hoping the tank doesn't break down, as it appeared to do in a dress rehearsal on Thursday."

According to Reuters:

"In his address, Russian President Vladimir Putin paid tribute to the Red Army and thanked wartime allies France, Britain and the United States for helping to defeat Nazi Germany."He added, however, that there had been "attempts to create a unipolar world" in recent decades, apparently [referring] to the US which Moscow has criticized for seeking to dominate global affairs."

The parade in Moscow comes a day after the Allied Victory in Europe (V-E Day) in the West, which was celebrated on Friday.

The reason for the different days, The Atlantic explains, is that with Adolph Hitler already dead, his chosen successor, U-Boat chief Karl Doenitz was left to negotiate the surrender of the Third Reich.

Doenitz in turn delegated Gen. Alfred Jodl, the chief of staff of the German Weirmacht, to sign the instrument of surrender at a meeting with allied representatives in Reims, France.

According to The Atlantic:

"[The] signature of Jodl, a relatively low-ranking general, was not enough ... for the Soviet Union, which had suffered by far the most casualties among the Allies fighting the Germans. The reason had to do with the last time Germany surrendered, 55 miles to the west, in 1918. The surrender had been signed by a civilian politician who opposed the war and not by Germany's top military commander. Hitler and his allies later claimed this meant that German forces hadn't really lost, but had been "stabbed in the back" by their political opponents. Determined to avoid this outcome after World War II, the Soviets insisted that the head of Germany's Armed Forces High Command, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, surrender personally to Joseph Stalin's representative in Berlin."

After some delay over an incomplete text, Keitel signed the surrender with the USSR in the early morning hours of May 9.

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