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Russia flexes military muscle in biggest Victory Day parade

RUSSIAN President Dmitry Medvedev warned against "military adventurism" yesterday, saying Russia would firmly defend its interests - just as it did during World War II when the Soviet Union defeated fascism.

Medvedev opened the biggest and most spectacular Victory Day parade in modern Russia's history.

"Our victory over fascism is a great example and a great lesson to all nations, the lesson which is still topical today, when again and again there appear the ones indulging in military adventurism," Medvedev said.

"Those marching today in this square ... will include the ones who in a real battle proved the high combat readiness of the modern Russian army, and we are confident any aggression against our citizens will be decisively rebuffed, and Russia's future will be peaceful, successful and happy," Medvedev said.

Guards of honor, clad in new dark-blue uniforms with crimson chests, golden shoulder-straps and embroidered peaked caps carried the Victory Banner at the start of the parade in Red Square, as an orchestra of 1,000 musicians played marches.

The banner, a red hammer-and-sickle flag, was hoisted over the Reichstag building in Berlin, marking the end of what is known as the 1941-45 Great Patriotic War in the former Soviet Union.

The Soviets lost around 27 million people - most of them civilians - fighting against Nazi Germany and its allies.

Some historians say the losses were much higher.

Veterans - their chests decorated with medals glowing in the blazing sun - watched from a grandstand as 9,000 troops from various sections of the Russian armed forces paraded in the cobbled square.

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

Along with giant Soviet-designed Topol-M strategic nuclear missiles and the world's most powerful "Smerch" (Tornado) multiple rocket launchers, Russia rolled out for the first time its S-400 "Triumph" air defense system.

About 70 combat aircraft and helicopters - over twice as many as last year - whizzed over Red Square at a record-low altitude of just 300 meters.

Russia and other post-Soviet nations celebrate Victory in Europe Day a day later than the rest of the world due to the time difference when the Soviet Union and its allies signed the Act of Germany's Military Surrender outside Berlin.


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