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9 May, 2010 08:10

Marching in memory of common victory

A spectacular parade has opened the Victory Day festivities in Moscow. On the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII, military from the allied forces have for the first time ever marched on Red Square during the parade.

It started at the traditional 10am Moscow time. President Dmitry Medvedev delivered an address to the nation and all the guests.

“In 1945, not only military but also a great moral victory was achieved. A common victory. All peoples of the former USSR struggled for it. Our allies were advancing it,” Medvedev said. “And today, soldiers of Russia, CIS countries and anti-Hitler coalition states will march together triumphantly. A single rank is evidence of our common readiness to defend peace, not to allow the revision of the outcomes of war and new tragedies.”

US President Barack Obama did not manage to come to Moscow for the Victory Day festivities, but ahead of May 9, he spoke to Russian political commentator Sergey Brilev about the importance of the anniversary.

“The commemoration in Russia is so important because it reminds us of the extraordinary sacrifice the then-Soviet Union made and the strength of the alliance,” said President Obama.

“The father of our current ambassador in Moscow, Ambassador John Beyrle, briefly fought with the Soviet Army. He was part of US operations there [in Europe]. He was captured, escaped in the Soviet Union and fought with the Soviet Army for a time. And that I think symbolizes the joint allied efforts that helped to defeat fascism. It is one of the most important military alliances of all time,” he added.

More than 10,500 Russian troops and around 1,000 foreign troops have marched on the cobblestones of Red Square. Among the foreigners were representatives of the UK, France and the US, as well as Poland and CIS countries.

The first part of the parade was a spectacular march of troops dressed in replica WWII uniforms. Cadets of Russian military academies and institutes followed. The final part was the display of military equipment, including the latest tanks, rocket launchers, planes and helicopters.

“It was an immaculate parade of the Russian troops and the foreign contingent who participated in it,” said Air Commodore Mark McGeown, head of the Royal Welsh Guard, who was among the special guests.

“I think it was an opportunity for us to demonstrate that we remember that our countries were allies in that great fight for freedom; that we stood shoulder to shoulder during those difficult days,” he added.