Russia held its annual May 9 military parade in Moscow on Thursday to mark the 74th anniversary of the former Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, war veterans and guests, including the first President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, watched the parade on the central tribune in the Red Square.
In a keynote speech, Putin thanked those who had contributed to the former Soviet Union's victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945.
"Happy Victory Day!" he said, adding that the victory makes all Russians feel proud.
Recalling the contributions and sacrifices made by Russians during the war, he said: "We became the liberator of Europe and the world. The victory belongs to all people."
Putin noted that Russians, both soldiers and civilians, had showcased their strength and "unparalleled courage" during the war, which have been "passed on to the next generation."
He stressed Russians should never forget this heritage, which he called "sacred."
The Russian president also said the country is doing "everything possible" to ensure high battle readiness of its armed forces and keep its defense potential at the "most modern level."
Meanwhile, "Russia is open to cooperation with all those who are ready indeed to confront terrorism, neo-Nazism and extremism," he said.
Over 13,000 troops, 132 pieces of military equipment and 74 aircraft of all types and branches of the Russian armed forces took part in the event. It was also the first time that women marched with the honor guard. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reviewed the parade.
On June 22, 1941, millions of Axis troops attacked the Soviet Union in violation of the non-aggression agreement signed between Moscow and Nazi Germany.
On May 9, 1945, Germany surrendered unconditionally. The Soviet Union named the date "Victory Day" and decided to host festive military parades in Moscow's Red Square every year.
The parades stopped after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but were resumed in 1995.