Russia Flexes Military Might as Foreign Leaders Stay Away From V-E Parade

2015-05-09T092719Z_76856793_LR2EB590Q98RW_RTRMADP_3_WW2-ANNIVERSARY-RUSSIA
Russian Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot ground-attack planes fly in formation over Red Square during the Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 9, 2015. Host Photo Agency/RIA Novosti/Reuters

This year, Russia’s annual Victory Day parade marks 70 years since the Allied and Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

But as well as being a landmark anniversary, likely the last Russia’s war veterans will be alive for, it is significant for two reasons. The Armata T-14, the first tank Russia has designed since the fall of the Soviet Union, made its highly anticipated public debut and few world leaders were around to see it.

After more than a year of tensions over the ongoing situation in eastern Ukraine, many Western leaders skipped the parade, held in Moscow’s Red Square. Only 10 years ago, for the 60th anniversary, former President George W. Bush appeared alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin. This year, less than 30 of the 68 invitations sent out to world leaders were confirmed, The Moscow Times reports.  

Heads of state from the U.S., Germany, France, the U.K. and Spain did not attend and sent ambassadors instead. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Moscow, but went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier instead of Red Square. The parade’s big draw, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, canceled his trip at the last minute. The leaders of a number of former Soviet states, including Ukraine and Belarus, were also absent.

Heads of state from the economic bloc of nations known as BRICS—Brazil, India, China, South Africa and Russia—did show. Cuban leader Raul Castro attended as did United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

2015-05-09T102149Z_466338767_LR2EB590SS2UP_RTRMADP_3_WW2-ANNIVERSARY-RUSSIA Russian T-14 tank with the Armata Universal Combat Platform drives during the Victory Day parade at Red Square. Host Photo Agency/RIA Novosti/Reuters

For those world leaders who were around to watch, the parade included around 100 Armata T-14 tanks. Notable for its remotely controlled armed turret, the tank’s roll-out suffered an embarrassing setback on Thursday when, during a rehearsal for the parade, the driver of a tank raised a red flag to indicate his vehicle had broken down. The tank rolled out of Red Square around 15 minutes later.

2015-05-09T093147Z_451862849_LR2EB590QGOS5_RTRMADP_3_WW2-ANNIVERSARY-RUSSIA Russian servicemen march during the Victory Day parade at Red Square in Moscow. Grigory Dukor/Reuters 2015-05-09T101015Z_32226476_LR2EB590S8SUB_RTRMADP_3_WW2-ANNIVERSARY-RUSSIA An Il-78 Midas air force tanker and Su-34 bombers fly in formation during the Victory Day parade above Red Square. Grigory Dukor/Reuters 2015-05-09T102317Z_157847950_LR2EB590SUHUT_RTRMADP_3_WW2-ANNIVERSARY-RUSSIA An aerial view of the Victory Day parade at Red Square. Host Photo Agency/RIA Novosti/Reuters 2015-05-09T103714Z_535074796_LR2EB590THRVF_RTRMADP_3_WW2-ANNIVERSARY-RUSSIA MiG-29 and Su-25 military jets fly in formation above Red Square during the Victory Day parade. Host Photo Agency/RIA Novosti/Reuters 2015-05-09T103949Z_1693468581_LR2EB590TM2VJ_RTRMADP_3_WW2-ANNIVERSARY-RUSSIA Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd R) and China's President Xi Jinping (2nd L) watch the Victory Day parade at Red Square. Host Photo Agency/RIA Novosti/Reuters 2015-05-09T104403Z_1665258023_LR2EB590TSLVS_RTRMADP_3_WW2-ANNIVERSARY-RUSSIA Cuban President Raul Castro (L) and Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj watch the Victory Day parade at Red Square. Host Photo Agency/RIA Novosti/Reuters 2015-05-09T105051Z_974549516_LR2EB590U4FWD_RTRMADP_3_WW2-ANNIVERSARY-RUSSIA Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd R, front) and China's President Xi Jinping (2nd L, front) watch the Victory Day parade at Red Square. Host Photo Agency/RIA Novosti/Reuters 2015-05-09T114926Z_152215087_LR2EB590WU30G_RTRMADP_3_WW2-ANNIVERSARY-RUSSIA People take part in the Immortal Regiment march with pictures of World War II soldiers on Red Square during the Victory Day celebrations. Maxim Shemetov/Reuters 2015-05-09T112317Z_1991348344_LR2EB590VMIY8_RTRMADP_3_WW2-ANNIVERSARY-RUSSIA Russian servicemen march during the Victory Day parade at Red Square. Host Photo Agency/RIA Novosti/Reuters 2015-05-09T112446Z_1441072202_LR2EB590VOZYB_RTRMADP_3_WW2-ANNIVERSARY-RUSSIA Russian servicemen in historical Red Army uniforms ride horses during the Victory Day parade at Red Square. Host Photo Agency/RIA Novosti/Reuters 2015-05-09T113149Z_951368196_LR2EB590W0QYO_RTRMADP_3_WW2-ANNIVERSARY-RUSSIA World War Two veterans (C, R) take part in the Victory Day celebrations. Maxim Zmeyev/Reuters russia A Russian Mil Mi-26 Halo helicopter flies over Red Square during the Victory Day parade. Host Photo Agency/RIA Novosti/Reuters