Russia Holds War Parades With Putin Set To Visit Crimea

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev watch the Victory Day parade in Moscow's Red Square

Russia has held an expanded Victory Day parade in Moscow, amid a surge of patriotism over Crimea’s annexation. A similar Victory Day parade – marking 69 years since Nazi Germany surrendered its forces – took place in Moscow’s Red Square on Friday morning.

About 11,000 servicemen are taking part in the annual event, which began with troops marching to the sound of brass bands as Mr Putin watched from the stands, flanked by veterans. Some 150 military vehicles and 70 combat aircraft also took part in the show.

“This is a holiday when all-conquering patriotic force triumphs, when we all feel especially strongly what it means to be true to the Motherland and how important it is to be able to stand up for its interests,” he told troops to shouts of “Hurrah!”

Vladimir Putin could also today make his first visit to Crimea since Moscow’s annexation of the peninsula from Ukraine. Mr Putin’s planned trip to Crimea was reported by Russian dailies Kommersant and Gazeta.ru and is being seen as a move to bolster public support amid simmering tensions in Ukraine.

He is expected to attend an event in Sevastopol to mark the Soviet victory over the Nazis in World War Two – which comes three days ahead of a referendum in eastern Ukraine.

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