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Russian Leader Warns Against 'Military Adventurism' At Victory Day Parade

Tanks rolled through Red Square in the Victory Day parade in Moscow.

Tanks rolled through Red Square in the Victory Day parade in Moscow.

(RFE/RL) -- On the 64th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, missiles and tanks rolled through Moscow's Red Square and aircraft roared overhead in the traditional military display marking Russia's most important secular holiday.

Opening what was described as one of the most spectacular Victory Day parades in recent years, President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia's victory over fascism during the 1941-45 Great Patriotic War was "a great example and a great lesson" to all nations.

Speaking side-by-side with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Medvedev said the lesson was "still valid today, when again and again those nations appear to be the ones indulging in military adventurism."

Russia's president insisted that "any aggression against our citizens will be decisively rebuffed, and Russia's future will be peaceful, successful, and happy."

Medvedev's comments also came amid renewed tensions with NATO, whose decision to hold war exercises in Georgia has been termed a "blatant provocation" by Medvedev. Russia defeated Georgia in a five-day war last August.

Military Spectacle

At the start of the Red Square parade, guards of honor in dark-blue uniforms carried the Victory Banner -- a red hammer-and-sickle flag that was hoisted over the Reichstag building in Berlin in 1945 -- as an orchestra of hundreds of musicians played marches.

Veterans with their chests decorated with medals watched from a grandstand as thousands of troops paraded in the square.

Russia's latest T-90 main battle tanks, armored vehicles, and self-propelled cannons rumbled past the red-brick walls of the Kremlin.

Along with nuclear-capable, Soviet-designed Topol-M strategic nuclear missiles and "Smerch" (Tornado) multiple rocket launchers, Russia showed off its S-300 and S-400 antiaircraft missiles.

Dozens of combat aircraft and helicopters whizzed over Red Square at an altitude of just 300 meters, including the Mi-28 antiarmor attack helicopter and the Cold War-era, nuclear-capable Tu-160 strategic bomber.

Officials said the Red Square parade was matched by similar demonstrations across Russia involving almost 30,000 troops.

Russia and other post-Soviet states celebrate Victory Day a day later than the rest of the world as it was early morning on May 9, 1945, in Moscow when the Soviet Union and its allies signed the Act of Germany's Military Surrender outside Berlin.

The Soviets lost around 27 million people -- most of them civilians -- fighting against Nazi Germany and its allies. Some historians say the losses were even higher.

compiled from agency reports