Putin arrives in Crimea to celebrate Victory Day

Moscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived Friday in the Crimean city of Sevastopol to celebrate Victory Day marking the 69th anniversary of Moscow’s victory over the German forces in World War II.

Thousands of people gathered in Sevastopol’s Nakhimov Square to watch the Victory Day parade and the display of columns of modern military equipment and half-tonne WW II trucks.

Head of the Black Sea Fleet’s coastal troops, Maj. Gen. Alexander Ostrikov commanded the parade.

More than 60 units of military equipment rolled through the city centre, including Tigr armoured vehicles, BTR-80 armoured personnel carriers, Grad salvo fire launchers, Rapira 100-mm artillery guns and 152-mm Giatsint guns.

The parade of the Sevastopol garrison ended in a march of Great Patriotic War veterans.

The Crimean Parliament March 17 declared independence from Ukraine and sought to join the Russian Federation.

Russia and Crimea March 18 signed a treaty of accession of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol into the Russian Federation.

The Ukrainian Parliament April 15 declared Crimea as a territory temporarily occupied by Russia.

Earlier Friday, more than 11,000 soldiers and officers of the armed forces, law enforcement agencies, military colleges, junior army and navy school cadets took part in the traditional Victory Day parade at Moscow’s Red Square.

The parade consisted of a march-past, a motorised display and the aerial exhibition.

The motorised display included 151 vehicles and units of technology and an aerial display was performed by 68 aircraft and helicopters.

President Putin, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Russian Armed Forces, attended the parade and later flew to Sevastopol.

“It is a holiday when an overwhelming force of patriotism triumphs, when all of us feel particularly acutely what it means to be loyal to the motherland and how important it is to defend its interests,” Putin said while at Moscow’s Red Square.

Other than Moscow and Sevastopol, parades were also held in even other Russian cities — Kerch, St. Petersburg, Smolensk, Murmansk, Tula, Novorossiysk and Volgograd.

Victory Day is celebrated each year in Russia May 9 to mark the victory in 1945 over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War, the Russian term for World War II.

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