Putin shrugs off snub by wartime allies in Moscow parade

President also criticised the US at Moscow's 70th anniversary celebration of the Nazis' defeat

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 May, 2015, 7:38am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 May, 2015, 7:38am

Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday presided over a huge military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany, brushing off a snub by Western leaders over Ukraine, but still managing a dig at the United States.

In what is seen as punishment for the Kremlin's alleged meddling in Ukraine, Western countries, led by Russia's allies in the second world war, boycotted the festivities, leaving Putin to mark the day in the company of the leaders of China, Cuba and other Moscow-friendly figures.

Addressing thousands of foreign guests and veterans, Putin chose to ignore the boycott, thanking Britain, France and the US for their "contribution" to the defeat of Nazi Germany.

"Our fathers and grandfathers went through unbearable suffering, deprivation and losses," Putin said, feting the country's veterans and the "grandeur of victory over Nazism".

"We are grateful to the people of Great Britain, France and the United States for their contribution to victory," he added, also thanking those who fought against the Nazis in other countries, including Germany itself.

In an apparent dig at the United States, Putin criticised attempts to establish a "unipolar" world order and stressed the need to develop a "system of equal security for all states", but he conspicuously shunned more aggressive rhetoric and made no mention of the Ukraine crisis.

More than 16,000 troops - including Chinese honour guards - as well as troops from Mongolia, Serbia and several ex-Soviet states marched past the leaders, including Xi Jinping .

The Soviet Union lost an estimated 27 million soldiers and civilians in the second world war - more than any other country - and the Red Army's triumph remains a source of national pride.

But the Kremlin parade was overshadowed by the Ukraine crisis, with the West slapping sanctions on Moscow over Russia's seizure of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

US President Barack Obama snubbed the festivities, as did the leaders of Britain and France.