Russians celebrated 70 years since the defeat of the Nazi forces in World War II, otherwise known as the Great Patriotic War, today. The signing of the surrender document was on May 8 for most of the world, but on May 9 Moscow time. The celebration of the holiday dates back to the Soviet Union and is the most celebrated secular holiday in Russia.
Victory Day has a dual significance for Russians. It celebrates the defeat of Nazis while also commemorating those who lost their lives in World War II. Some have estimated that the Soviet Union lost 26 million in the war, including civilian and military deaths. The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle in the war and was a turning point against the Axis forces. Over 1 million Soviets lost their lives in the five month battle.
This year’s parade was one of the largest since the Soviet Union fell. New military machines were unveiled, including a state-of-the-art tank, as part of the military parade. The parade also included people carrying pictures of relatives involved in the war. President Vladimir Putin carried a picture of his father, who was in the navy.
President Putin also gave a speech as part of the event. He subtly attacked the United States, saying, “in the past decades we have seen attempts to create a unipolar world.” This wording has often been used by the Russian government to accuse the United States of trying to be a sole superpower leading the world. President Putin also stressed international peace and cooperation in his speech.
Many Russians accuse the West of rewriting history when it comes to the Soviet Union’s involvement in World War II. Commonly, Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S Truman along with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill are seen as the Allied leaders, forgetting Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin. Egypt’s President, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, was in attendance and made a statement that, “No one can deny the role that Russia, the Soviet Union, played in the fight with Nazism and history will never forget.”