Russia celebrates 63rd anniversary of USSRs victory in World War II.
It was the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union when Russia showcased its military might in all its glory. On May 9 2008 tanks and missiles rolled across Red Square to mark the 63rd anniversary of Victory in World War II.
Dmitry Medvedev, the new President of Russia, who officially took office on May 7, delivered a speech to the nation during the parade. Unlike Putin, Medvedev preferred not to draw parallels between the US administration and Nazi Germany.
However, he said the history of World War II had demonstrated that military conflicts are rooted in "irresponsible ambitions which prevail over interests of nations and entire continents."
"We must not allow contempt for the norms of international law," he said in what sounded like a veiled criticism of the United States and its Western allies.
Russia has consistently criticized both the U.S.-led war in Iraq and wide Western recognition of Kosovo's independence as flagrant violations of international legal norms.
A stern-faced Putin, who was named prime minister a day earlier, hovered at Medvedev's shoulder at a colorful podium and staging built to hide a mausoleum where Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin is kept.
As Medvedev spoke, Putin's face was prominently shown in TV broadcasts _ an image that played to the wide belief that the ex-president will continue calling the shots.
Medvedev _ Russia's third post-Soviet president_ hailed the resurgence of the military which he said can "give a reliable protection to the motherland."
"Our army and navy are getting stronger. Just as Russia itself, they are gaining strength," he said.
Over 100 combat vehicles, including intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, rolled across the famed cobblestoned square, and strategic bombers and fighter jets roared overhead in the first such display in 18 years. Medvedev smiled frequently as he watched the parade, which during the Soviet Union was an annual exercise in saber-rattling directed at the West.
Russia's military spending has increased eightfold to an annual US$40 billion ( ? 25.9 billion) during Putin's eight-year tenure, thanks to the nation's oil bonanza. Analysts, however, say the armed forces suffer from the same problems that dented its capability and prestige since the Soviet collapse.
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