NATO joins Russia Victory Day parade
For the first time since former Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin commemorated the victory over Nazi Germany, NATO troops have joined Russian soldiers to mark the event.
NATO troops form the US, Britain, France and Poland joined over 11,000 Russian soldiers in Moscow’s Red Square to mark the 65th anniversary of Soviet Union’s 1945 victory over Germany in World War II.
The event was attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chinese President Hu Jintao and leaders of almost all former Soviet republics.
Addressing the troops, Russia President Dmitry Medvedev said the lesson learned from World War II is “to unite in solidarity” in order to counter present-day threats and ensure global peace and security.
He also hailed the joint march as “evidence of a common readiness to defend peace.”
US President Barack Obama, who could not make the trip to Moscow due to scheduling clash, released a statement praising the historic invitation of NATO troops, saying Medvedev had shown “remarkable leadership in honoring the sacrifices of those who came before us.”
However, the opposition Communists and some Soviet war veterans were enraged by the move and held a demonstration in central Moscow.
A recent poll conducted by the independent Levada Center showed that 55 percent of Russians viewed the presence of NATO troops at the parade as wholly or partly positive, with only 28 percent against it.
Victory Day, celebrated every year on May 9, is one of Russia’s most important public holidays. This year over 102,000 troops marched in cities across Russia in one of the biggest parades organized by the country’s Defense Ministry.