"Victory Day" has been rebooted since Vladimir Putin took the reins of Russia over a decade ago. May 9th is the official day that marks the end of what Russians call "The Great Patriotic War," otherwise known as WWII to the rest of us.
Russians do have a lot to celebrate really, WWII was the bloodiest for Russia out of all the allies, and without their dedication on the Eastern Front the world may be a different place today. Still, one cannot help but have the specter of the Cold War and the Soviet days come to mind when watching this type of military parade in Red Square. Even the gold-on-red sickle and hammer next to the CCCP "Order of Victory" medal continue to stand vigil over Red Square till this very day.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, and Russia's economically and culturally tumultuous 1990's, these types of displays were by and large thought of as inappropriate and much of Russia's military apparatus was falling into disrepair and inorganization. After Vladimir Putin became President in 2000, he focused on revitalizing nationalism among the Russian populace. Strong-armed tactics in Chechnya along with rebooting modern displays of military might and showcasing common events that evoke nationalistic sentiment have all become part of the Putin program. At the top of this list was bringing back the Victory Day parades in Red Square. These Soviet era like demonstrations of a reinvigorated "Russian Bear" have grown once again to be the largest of their kind in the world, although they do fluctuate from year to year. This year had over 11,000 troops, 150 vehicles and seventy aircraft participating.
Back in the 50's and 60's, Victory Day was often the type of event where new Soviet military capabilities would be unveiled, sending American and Western European military analysts into frenzy. Once again the world casts a much keener eye on Russian displays of military might after their invasion of Crimea and the continued proxy warfare that exists within a Ukraine that is inching closer and closer to full blow civil war.
The special importance of Victory Day this year was not lost on President Putin either, as he quickly flew to his new territory in Crimea to view their Victory Day celebrations. This will be the first time Putin has set foot on Russia's freshly annexed strategic peninsula on the Black Sea. Was this Mr. Putin's "Mission Accomplished" moment or just the beginning of a larger set of goals in the region?
The hardware on display for this year's Victory Day parade featured top of the line Russian capabilities, including the Tu-160 Blackjack swing-wing bomber, Topol-M road-mobile ballistic missiles, and Russia's highly capable S-400 surface to air missile system. Check out the "dashcam" video from different participants perspective below, along with some stunning pics from the display:
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attend a Victory Day parade in Red Square along with top Russian military brass.
Russian troops glance in unison while marching on Red Square.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu inspects the troops from his Zil convertible during the Victory Day parade.
SU-34, SU-27, and MiG-29SMTs scream overhead Red Square during the display.
A massive TOPOL-M road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile system rolls through Red Square.
A trio of Tu-95MS Bear long range bombers fly high overhead. The Bears have been making their appearances over Red Square for almost 60 years.
Red Square never looked so good!- Russian Police Academy Cadets strut by the VIP area.
Five Mi-28 Havoc attack helos thunder overhead.
T-90 Main Battle Tanks rumble through Red Square.
One of Russia's 16 Tu-160 "Blackjack" strategic bombers flies in pre-contact position behind a Il-76MD "Midas" tanker, undoubtedly the highlight of the parade.
A "Scarab" short ranged ballistic missile awaits its turn on the parade grounds.
2S19 "Msta" self propelled 152mm Howitzers rumble through Red Square.
Su-25 "Frogfoot" close air support attack aircraft execute a line-abreast formation flyover while releasing smoke in the color of the Russian flag.
Russian cannons fire a salute along the wall of the Kremlin.
Russian transport helos were represented by a quartet of Mi-8s and a single massive Mi-26, the largest helicopter in the world.
Russian BTR-80 armored ppersonnel carriers (APC) rolls by on the parade grounds
A VIP arrives at the Kremlin in a custom Mi-8MTVs for the occasion.
A Russian soldier salutes the executive VIP box from his tank during the demonstration.
Putin arrives in Sevastopol for Victory Day festivities. This is the first time Putin has visited the region since "annexing" the Crimean Peninsula.
The Russian Black Knights and Swifts aerobatic demonstration teams execute an awesome flyover of Sevastopol while launching dozens of flares.
Putin takes in the Su-27s and MiG-29s flying over while standing on a pulpit in his newly acquired territory.
Photo credits AP
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer that maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com