Soldiers marching in the streets of Moscow. Armoured vehicles rolling on the Red Square. Vladimir Putin’s rallying cry about the “real war” of the West.
Russia’sVictory Day Parade may have appeared to be business as usual, despite reports that the parade was going to be reduced due security concerns.
The numbers, however, tell a very different story.
The procession, which is usually impressive, was only a quarter the size it normally is in terms of vehicles such as tanks, missile carriers, and transporters.
The Russian airforce did not perform its traditional flyover.
This year’s Victory Day parade featured a single tank leading the way through Red Square. It was a stark contrast to the usual displays of military might on Victory Day.
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The tank, a T-34-85 from the Second World War flying the Soviet Red Flag was the traditional choice for the day marking Russia’s victory against Nazi Germany.
In previous years, however, the T-34-85 was followed by a long column of modern fighting vehicles including Russia’s prized T-14 Armata tanks and T-90 tank.
Not this year. In fact, Russia suffered significant losses after its February 2022 invasion in the neighboring Ukraine.
Analysts estimate that only 51 vehicles took part in the procession of 2023.
This is about a quarter the 200 military equipment that will be rolled on the streets of Moscow in 2020, when Russia marks the 75th anniversary since the end of World War II.
Last year, just months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the number of cars involved reached 131 – roughly the same as pre-COVID 2019.
Oliver Alexander, an independent analyst, said that this is the first time he’s seen a graphic detailing the parade.
He was able, however, to identify 51 vehicles using the carefully curated Russian broadcast.
There were also several Tigr-Ms, a 4×4 mobile infantry vehicle that is used for moving troops and conducting patrols.
Mr Alexander counted ten Remdiesel ZSTS Akhmat MRAPs – armoured vehicles that he claimed were only used in Chechnya.
As is custom, missile launchers and air defense units were included in the parade.
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According to Alexander, the Russian Airborne Forces, also known as VDV, were not heavily involved in Russia’s early invasion of Ukraine.
The Victory Day Flyover, which usually involves Russia’s Su-30SM and Su-34 combat aircraft flying in formation, was also cancelled ahead of time.
Three RS-24 YARS – Russia’s thermonuclear armed ballistic missiles – were visible in the procession.
This year, three large missile units, just as in 2020, 2021, and 2022, were displayed.