MOSCOW (AP) — Russia will be a guarantor of world security, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday at the annual military parade on Red Square.
Putin made his short speech at the culmination of Victory Day, marking the defeat of Nazi Germany 68 years ago. It is Russia's most important secular holiday, honoring the huge military and civilian losses of World War II and showing off the country's modern arsenal.
Putin told 11,000 servicemen standing in tight formation on the square and the war veterans in the spectator stands that "we remember what the tragedy of war means and will do everything so that nobody will ever dare to unleash it anew, threaten our children, our homes and our land."
He added, "We will do everything to strengthen security on the planet."
The Soviet Union lost an estimated 26 million people in the war, of whom 8.5 million were soldiers.
Among the thousands of spectators along the square were elderly World War II veterans, displaying rows of medals.
Putin lauded them, saying "We will always remember that it was Russia, the Soviet Union, that ruined the misanthropic, bloody, arrogant plans of the fascists."
The precisely choreographed parade included servicemen marching through the 5.5-acre (2.3-hectare) square and a convoy of more than 100 military vehicles ranging from armored cars to mobile missile-launchers and tanks. In the concluding display, more than 60 military aircraft flew over the square in close formation.