The Russian military conducted a large-scale parade in Moscow on Tuesday to commemorate end of Soviet fighting against Nazi Germany on May 9th, 1945. Russian President Vladimir Putin was present for the day’s festivities, where he was joined by Soviet era veterans on a platform overlooking the parade ground.
Lessons of the past war remind us to be vigilant, and the Armed Forces of Russia are capable of repelling any potential aggression,” Putin told the parade. “But for an effective battle with terrorism, extremism, neo-Nazism and other threats the whole international community needs to be consolidated. … We are open for such cooperation.”
While various ground elements from Russia’s military were on display, few garnered more attention than the mobile air defense systems built specifically to operate in sub-zero Arctic conditions. The Tor-M and Pantsir SA air defense systems, painted in white, grey, and black, have never before been showcased in such a public forum.
These missile platforms demonstrate more than Russia’s ability to color coordinate for various climates; they speak to Russia’s recent shift toward the militarization of the arctic, which Putin sees as a strategically and economically important part of the world that is quickly opening up thanks to climate change.
“Climate change brings in more favorable conditions and improves the economic potential of this region,” Putin has said. “Today, Russia’s GDP is the result of the economic activity of this region.”
The Russian government has already expended considerable resources in establishing military installations in the Arctic. Enough so that the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard recently compared it to winning a game of chess before their opponents even finish putting their pieces on the board.
“They’ve got all their chess pieces on the board right now, and right now we’ve got a pawn and maybe a rook,” Admiral Paul Zukunft said. “If you look at this Arctic game of chess, they’ve got us at checkmate right at the very beginning.”
Russia’s parade did not feature an aerial show as it normally would, due to low visibility above Moscow on Tuesday, but saw participation from nearly every other facet of the Russian war machine. Aside from Russia’s latest Arctic gear, T-90 battle tanks, more than 10,000 troops, and Russia’s Yars ICBMs were also on display during the event.
The Russian military boasts the third highest budget in the world, after the United States and China. Last year, they reportedly invested as much as $69 billion toward defense. Russia’s air force has been heavily involved in combat operations in Syria, in support of Bashar al Assad’s regime, in recent months.
“Russia will always be on the side in the world of those who fight against these scourges. Dear friends, as the Second World War recedes in history, we are obliged to make sure that stability throughout the world is observed.” Putin spoke to the crowd.
“The Russian soldier today, as in all times, showing courage and heroism, is ready for any feat, for any sacrifice for the sake of his motherland and people.”
Watch the highlights from Russia’s military parade below:
Images courtesy of CNN/Reuters