MOSCOW – Russia is expected to put on stage large-scale military parades across the country on May 9 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Great Patriotic War, Russia’s term for World War II (WWII).
Among them, the highlight will be the one at the Red Square in downtown Moscow, which, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, will be the largest parade since the fall of the former Soviet Union in 1991.
Here are five facts about those parades.
Scale of the parades
Over 15,000 soldiers will march across the Red Square, a 50-percent increase from the parade in 2010. The mechanized section will involve 194 units of armaments and military equipment, some of which will be displayed for the first time. The aerial section will include 143 jets and helicopters of the Russian Air Force, according to Shoigu.
In addition to the parade at the Red Square, according to the defense minister, parades are also to be held in 150 Russian cities and towns. Marches with the participation of military equipment and armaments are to be held in 40 cities, according to an online statement from the Kremlin.
The statement said that naval parades are planned to take place at the five major bases of the Russian Navy, and aviation is to take part in the parades in five Russian cities.
The nationwide parades will bring together about 80,000 servicemen, nearly 2,000 pieces of military equipment and armaments, over 200 aircraft and more than 50 naval vessels.
Foreign guests to come to Moscow for celebrations
The Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters earlier that around 30 presidents, prime ministers and heads of international organizations are expected to attend relevant celebrations in Moscow on May 8-10. According to Sergei Ivanov, chief of the Russian presidential administration, more than 20 countries, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have confirmed their attendance at the parade in Moscow.
Invitations have also been issued to 85 participants in the Great Patriotic War in all regions of Russia and to 75 veterans from 23 countries.
The Kremlin statement said that after the parade, foreign guests will take part in a collective ceremony of laying wreaths to the Tomb of Unknown Soldiers, followed by a gala reception at the Grand Kremlin Palace. There will be an evening concert at the Red Square.
Foreign servicemen to participate in the Red Square parade
Military units from 10 countries have confirmed their participation in the parade at the Red Square. The servicemen are from China, India, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Mongolia and Serbia.
China’s guards of honor, consisting of 112 members, will attend the parade on Saturday. They have earlier been seen taking part in an overnight rehearsal for the parade. Their participation is viewed as China’s commitment to upholding global justice, the victory of WWII as well as peace and stability of the world.
The mechanized column will involve the legendary T-34 medium tank and the Su-100 self-propelled gun, which played their indispensable roles during WWII.
Modernized armaments will include the Russian third-generation main battle tank T-90, Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft artillery weapon system, Iskander-M tactical missile system, and the S-400 air defense system, which are traditional participants of the May 9 parade.
As to cutting edge armaments, the Armata T-14 main battle tank is expected to trundle through the Red Square. The eye-catching tank was seen with its turret covered during the rehearsal on April 29. The Kurganets-25 infantry fighting vehicle was also seen rolling across the street during the run-through.
Other much-anticipated armaments are expected to include the Koalitsiya-SV self-propelled tracked howitzer and the land-based Yars intercontinental ballistic missile complex.
Traditionally as the final part of the parade, the flyover will involve 143 aircraft to fly over the Red Square from 12 military airports at required speed and altitude.
Russian Air Force Commander-in-chief Viktor Bondarev will fly a Tu-160 supersonic strategic bomber over the Red Square.
For the first time ever, four Yak-130 training planes of a newly-formed aerobatics team of the Russian Air Force are expected to do a spectacular air show on Saturday. The classic display of the joint formation of Su-27s and MiG-29s will prove their excellence once again. The well-known Berkuty, Golden Eagles, are expected to fly over the Red Square with Mi-28N helicopters.
Other aircraft expected to fly on the occasion include the A-50 early warning and control aircraft, Tu-22M3 bombers, II-78 tanker aircraft, An-124 transport aircraft, MiG-31 supersonic interceptor, Su-24M front-line bombers, Mi-35 attack helicopters, among others.