Bathed in sunshine, Moscow’s Red Square hosted the commemorations for the end of World War Two.
May 9th is traditionally seen here as the final surrender of Nazi Germany in what Russians call the Great Patriotic War. Nine thousand troops, a hundred army vehicles and dozens of aircraft were on show as Russia showed off its military might. President Dmitri Medvedev congratulated war veterans and promised a bright future. He warned any aggression against Russia would be met with an adequate response, but said he is committed to peace. But the flag-waving masks a harsh reality. Last summer’s war in Georgia exposed the army’s short-comings, prompting demands for sweeping reforms. The Kremlin admits that 90 percent of Russian weaponry is obsolete, while the recruitment of top-quality soldiers has been hit by a culture of bullying. The army depends on conscripts with low pay and little training or motivation.