REUTERS - Russia showcased its modernized military war machine in a grand parade on Moscow's Red Square on Monday, displaying the advanced air defense missile system used to protect its base in Syria and some of the jets that have flown missions there.
The event, an annual fixture designed to commemorate the Soviet Union's victory over the Nazis in the Second World War, took place in bright sunshine as President Vladimir Putin looked on from a tribune filled with Soviet war veterans.
The strong man Russian leader, whose forces annexed Ukraine's Crimea in 2014 and are now helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's army, watched as thousands of Russian troops marched across the famous square to the strains of marshal music.
The authorities, backed by state media, use the annual event to build patriotic sentiment and to underscore the importance of having a strong military to protect the country's borders.
It is also a chance to show how a multi-billion dollar modernization program is changing the face of the Russian military by supplying it with new weapons and hardware.
Columns of tanks followed the troops as did the advanced S-400 air defense missile system which is deployed in Syria to protect the Russian air base there. Russia's latest Yars mobile intercontinental nuclear missile launcher was also on show.
Scores of military aircraft then flew over Red Square, including jets that emitted multi-colored smoke to trace a red, blue and white Russian flag in the sky.
Putin, in his speech to the parade, largely confined his remarks to the importance of defeating the Nazis in the Second World War, but also spoke about the need today to fight global terrorism and cooperate with other nations to do that.
A similar, albeit more modest parade, was held at Russia's base in Syria.
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