On June 24, 1945, Joseph Stalin, former Soviet Union leader stood on top of Vladimir Lenin's tomb and watched Marshal Georgy Zhukov review the ground armored force that defeated Nazi Germany in the World War-II. That was the first Victory Day Parade to celebrate the most glorious moment in the Soviet history.
Exactly 75 year later, on June 24, 2020, the 75th anniversary of that great victory was celebrated with a lot of fanfare during another grand parade which was reviewed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, war veterans and guests. Leaders form many countries also joined as guests during the event.
Troops from 13 foreign armies including India, China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia march through the iconic Red Square along with nearly 14,000 members of Russian Armed Forces. About 300 military assets including T34 , legendary tank of Soviet Union era and T-14 Armata, Russian military’s most advanced battle tank were present.
A host of aircrafts including Su-57, the secretive stealth fighter jet which is set to join the Russian air force in future was also on display. Iconic aircrafts like the Tu-95 and the Tu-160 also flew over the Red Square.
While addressing the attendees and the guests at the event, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed how important the role of the Soviet Union had been in fighting Nazism. "It is impossible even to imagine what would have become of the world if the Red Army had not come to its defense. Its soldiers needed neither the war nor other countries, nor glory, nor honors. They strove to crush the enemy, achieve the victory and return home. And they paid an irretrievable price for the freedom of Europe." The Russian President had earlier urged the West to acknowledge the Soviet Union’s role in the fight against Nazism.
The Soviet-era and the events of WW2 still play a pivotal role in the lives of Russians. As per a poll by the independent Levada Centre in Moscow, 75% Russians believe that the Soviet era was the best time in the country’s history.
Putin harnesses this Soviet-era influence amongst Russians and employs Victory Day celebrations to arouse patriotism and support amongst the Russians. This year due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, he went to great lengths to ensure smooth organization of the annual parade.
The Western countries remain critical of the event, reminding us of the competing narratives of Russia and the West regarding World War 2 politics.