Page last updated at 08:35 GMT, Friday, 9 May 2008 09:35 UK

Tanks rejoin Moscow V-Day parade


Russia shows off its military hardware

Russian tanks and intercontinental missile launchers have been paraded through Moscow for the first time since the collapse of the USSR.

The Russian leadership has decided to revive the Communist-era custom of featuring military hardware in the annual Victory Day parade.

New President Dmitry Medvedev said the army and navy were getting stronger.

Observers say the point of the parade was to demonstrate that Russia is a serious military force.

The Kremlin insists the event, which marks the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, is not meant to threaten anyone.

President Medvedev, who was inaugurated on Wednesday, has been leading the parade on Red Square.

Cheering crowds lined the streets everywhere with their mobile phones and digital cameras out to record every passing ICBM, tank and jet
Justin N, Moscow

"Our army and navy are gaining strength", he said.

"And in their power today lies the historical glory of Russian arms, therein lies the traditions of victory and the high spirit of our army."

His predecessor, Vladimir Putin, said earlier that the display of heavy weapons in this year's Victory Day parade was "not sabre-rattling", but "a demonstration of our growing defence capability".

Show of military might

Marching bands and 8,000 troops goose-stepped across Red Square, and heavy weapons such as Topol-M ballistic missiles and T-90 tanks were on display.

The cobbles of Red Square had been reinforced, in advance of the parade, to cope with the tanks and other heavy weaponry.

Television stations showed soldiers marching in cities around the country, as well as veterans with chests laden with medals.

Russia has made other recent shows of its military capability, including the resumption of long-range flights by the Tupolev Tu-95 bomber, an icon of the old Soviet arsenal.

But analysts say that despite these signs of military might, there is evidence of the Russian army and navy suffering from lack of money, a shortage of training, and low morale.

The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Moscow says conscripts in the army can be subjected to shocking brutality.

Last year 450 conscripts died from beatings or suicide.

In pictures: Russia's V-Day parade
09 May 08 |  In Pictures
Tanks to return to Red Square
21 Jan 08 |  Europe

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