Russia's Victory Day celebrations: Why military parade is so important for Russia?
Victory Day is a holiday that commemorates the victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.
Moscow, Apr 09: Russia is celebrating the 77th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany on Monday. Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to flaunt Russia's military power in a speech to the Victory Day parade.
Putin appeared to walk with a limp and sat with a blanket over his lap during Victory Day commemorations in Moscow today, raising fresh doubts over his health.
The parade comes one day after Ukrainian officials said a Russian airstrike killed 60 people sheltering in a school.
Unlike in previous years, this time no foreign head of state will be a guest at the parade.
Excerpts: Putin's speech
In his Red Square address, Putin blamed Moscow's invasion of Ukraine on western policies and said it was necessary to ward off potential aggression.
He criticised America, Nato and the government in Kyiv, claiming that their actions had put the security of Russia itself in danger. He made references (as usual) to "Neo-Nazis" in Ukraine.
Around 11,000 soldiers are expected to participate in the parade on Moscow's Red Square, and fighter jets are to form the letter "Z" in the sky, the symbol of Russia's fight in Ukraine.
What is Victory Day in Russia?
In Russia, "Victory Day," as it is referred to in the post-Soviet era, was for decades a day of sorrowful remembrance. The Soviet Union lost millions of its citizens during World War II, and May 9 was a day to reflect upon that loss.
Yet, that has changed over the past several years. Increasingly, Putin has used the day to serve his own domestic purposes.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday Russia had "forgotten everything that was important to the victors of World War II."
"Evil has returned, in a different uniform, under different slogans, but for the same purpose," he warned.
(with PTI, AFP inputs)