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Russian President Vladimir Putin flexed Russia’s military muscle on June 24 with parades commemorating the 75th anniversary of the World War ii victory over Nazi Germany. The celebrations came the day before a national vote designed to legitimize his plan to keep power until 2036. The largest parade in Moscow’s Red Square featured 13,000 soldiers, more than 230 military vehicles, including T-14s, T-72B3s, T-80 and T-90 tanks as well as several restored T-34s, the famous workhorse tanks of the Soviet Army’s armored corps. Some 75 military aircraft also took part.

Marching alongside the Russian forces were military contingents from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. “We can’t even imagine what the world would have become if the Red Army hadn’t come to its defense,” Putin said in a speech in Moscow about the conflict known in Russia as the Great War, in which 27 million Soviet Union citizens died. The anniversary parades celebrate “the triumph of good over evil, peace over war, life over death,” he said. “Today we bow our heads to the blessed memory of all who did not return from the war [and] mourn the veterans who have already left us.” The nation’s Defense Department reported that 28 other Russian cities held simultaneous military parades.