Russia is busy preparing for the Victory Day celebrations on May 9, as this year marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Great Patriotic War, Russia's term for World War II (WWII).
Against a background that relations between Moscow and the West hit the lowest point since the end of the Cold War due to the Ukraine crisis, analysts believe that Russia expects to make a decisive response to the precarious pressure from the Western countries with a series of high-profile celebrations across the country.
FLEXING MILITARY MUSCLE
Larger scale celebrations are usually held on the occasion of quinquennial and decennial anniversary of the victory of the Great Patriotic War in Russia.
Thus, Moscow, which is now confronted with economic sanctions, diplomatic isolation and military threat from the United States and Europe, has seen enough reasons for holding grand celebrations this year.
Among the celebrations, the most eye-catching one would be the large-scale military parade on the Red Square in downtown Moscow, which will be the biggest ever held in modern Russia.
According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, over 15,000 soldiers will take part in the parade, a 50-percent increase from the one in 2010.
As to the mechanized section, which will involve 194 units of armaments and military equipment, Russian Presidential Administration Chief Sergei Ivanov said that there will be on display for the first time state-of-the-art, brand new weapons systems like, for example, the intercontinental ballistic missile called Yars.
He added this year's premieres also include high-end armored personnel carriers, high-precision artillery systems, as well as the famous Su-30 and Su-35 fighter jets.
Moreover, the parade is not only a military celebration, but a multilateral diplomatic event, as military units from 10 countries, including China, will take part in the Red Square parade.
Military parades are also expected to be held in 27 other Russian cities, and in the capitals of Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia. In addition, naval parades are planned to take place at the five major bases of the Russian Navy.
BREAKING DIPLOMATIC ENCIRCLEMENT
For the Western world, attending Russia's Victory Day celebration is a departure from their joint stance on keeping up pressure on Russia for its annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and alleged involvement in the fragile situation in Ukraine.
Therefore, it's no surprise that the West has taken a general stance by boycotting, directly or indirectly, the parade.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia has sent invitations to leaders of 68 countries and the heads of the United Nations, the Council of Europe as well as the European Union (EU), with leaders of 26 nations having confirmed their participation, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Cuban President Raul Castro.
By contrast, the Western countries seemed not so active: the United States will be represented by its ambassador to Russia at the parade while France will send a ministerial representative to Moscow on May 9.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to come to Moscow on May 10, but British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced his absence.
Russia has slammed the United States and the EU for discouraging some European countries from attending the celebration. However, the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that some Western leaders' absence from the event "will not spoil its festive atmosphere and the scale of the holiday."
UPHOLDING WARTIME HISTORY
Russia has been dragged into a war of words with the West over its role in WWII. Clashes were triggered between Russia and Poland in January when Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said that "the First Ukrainian Front and Ukrainians liberated Auschwitz concentration camp."
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski later went even further by saying that he was considering holding an international ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of the end of WWII with EU leaders on May 8 in Gdansk.
The remarks provoked an irritated response from Moscow. Putin has on various occasions blasted attempts to revise WWII history, warning that "attempts to rewrite the history of WWII could open the gate for the revival of Nazism" and "the most sacred things have been distorted to serve political ends."
The Russian leader said those attempts are aimed at undermining Russia's power and moral authority, and depriving it of its status of a victorious nation.
Putin urged the Victory Day Celebration Organizing Committee to stand up to the challenge, and to educate people both nationally and internationally about the truth and the contribution of the Soviet people to the victory over Nazism.
The former Soviet Union has lost 27 million lives in the Great Patriotic War. In addition, 1,700 cities and towns were destroyed and many historical and cultural sites and relics were completely ruined.