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Anti-Hitler coalition troops march on Red Square to mark V-Day

For the first time in history, troops from World War II`s western allies matched steps with the Russians on the historic Red Square, marching together to mark the 65th anniversary of their victory over Nazi Germany.



Moscow: For the first time in history, troops
from World War II`s western allies matched steps with the
Russians on the historic Red Square, marching together to mark
the 65th anniversary of their victory over Nazi Germany.

Soldiers from Britain, France, Poland and the US joined
the 10,500 Russian troops and military contingents of the
former Soviet republics at the V-Day parade on the Red Square,
Russia`s biggest military display since the collapse of the
Soviet Union.

"The presence of foreign troops in Red Square - once the
heart of the Soviet Union - was a highly symbolic gesture,
demonstrating how far the rivalry of the Cold War has been
pushed aside," BBC said in its V-Day report for the Russian
capital.

Britain was represented by 76 soldiers from the 1st
Battalion Welsh Guards, wearing their trademark bright red
tunics and tall bearskin caps, as troops from the four NATO
countries marched on the Red Square for the first time.

France was represented at the parade by the Normandie-
Niemen squadron raised in Russia during the war, and Poland
was represented by 75 soldiers and officers of tri-services
guard of honour.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in a speech that
the lessons of World War II "urge us to show solidarity".

"Peace is still fragile and it is our duty to remember
that wars do not start in an instant... it is only together
that we shall be able to counter modern threats".

The US was represented by a detachment from the 2nd
Battalion, 18th Regiment which linked up with the Soviet
troops on the Elbe River in Germany in 1945.

This was the largest display of military might by Russia
since the Soviet collapse in 1991.

A total of 161 tanks and missiles rolled through the
Red Square and 127 aircraft presented an impressive fly-past.

For the first time it displayed six types of weapon
systems, including the Pantsir-S1 and Buratino air-defence
systems, the Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile, the
Yak-130 trainer jet and the Mi-28 and Ka-52 helicopters.

The aircraft included Tu-95MS Bear strategic bombers and
supersonic Tu-160 Blackjacks, Tu-22M3 Backfire long-range
bombers and Il-78 aerial tankers, which flew straight to the
Red Square from various airbases across the country.

The 72-minute parade was watched by a galaxy of about 30
foreign leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and
Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Several foreign diplomats present on the Red Square said
it was significant that former allied forces that defeated the
Nazis during WWII are together on the 65th anniversary of the
ending of the war.

About 55 million people had died during the Second World
War, of which almost 27 million were citizens of former Soviet
Union, mainly Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian President
Silvio Berlusconi had cancelled their visits due to EU
currency crisis.

The Western allies mark Victory in Europe Day each year
on May 8, but Russia celebrates Victory Day on May 9 as the
German surrender happened late in the night in Berlin when it
was already May 9 in Moscow.

A section of Russians had reacted negatively to the
proposal of a joint parade, objecting to the presence of NATO
soldiers on the historic Red Square.

"Sixty five years ago, Nazism was defeated and a machine
that was exterminating whole peoples was halted," Medvedev
said.

"There was blood and tears. There was one choice --
either victory or to become slaves. The war made us a strong
nation," he said.

PTI

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