MOSCOW (AP) — President Vladimir Putin joined Russian veterans on Wednesday for an unusual ceremony commemorating the 1945 victory over Japan to end World War II.
The surrender of Japan is not usually celebrated in Russia, but this year is the 70th anniversary and Putin is attending commemorations in China, including a military parade in Beijing on Thursday. China celebrates its victory the day after Japan formally surrendered to the Western Allies.
On his way to Beijing on Wednesday, Putin made a brief stop in Chita, a Siberian city not far from the Chinese border, where he laid a wreath at a war memorial and spoke with local veterans. A military parade was held Wednesday in Chita and in other cities in eastern parts of Russia, including on the Kamchatka Peninsula just north of the Kuril Islands.
A dispute over the four Pacific islands, which Russia seized from Japan at the end of the war, has continued to strain ties and has kept the two countries from signing a peace treaty after World War II.
In Moscow, Communists commemorated the end of the war by laying flowers at the tomb of the unknown soldier just outside the Kremlin wall.