On June 24, 1945, the Soviet Union held the largest military parade ever in Moscow’s Red Square. It lasted more than two hours and included more than 40,000 soldiers of the Red Army and some 1,850 military vehicles. Known as the Parade of Victors, it marked the defeat of Nazi Germany.
The Victory Day Parade has become an annual tradition in modern Russia, even if the 2020 edition to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War was scaled back due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, even that event could be described as grander than what occurred on Tuesday in Moscow.
Instead of waves of vehicles that showed the might of the Russian Army, it resembled what one might expect at a large-sized military vehicle show in Western Europe or the United States.
A single Soviet T-34 was the only tank to roll through Red Square. While it is true that the model tank played a significant role in the Red Army’s victory over the Nazis, it was a pathetic presentation of Soviet/Russian armor. The apparent reason for the lack of a show of force is that the Kremlin has sent so many of its tanks – and likely more importantly, its tank crews – to Ukraine. It now has a significant shortage of both.
The Kremlin has lost thousands of tanks in the 15-month conflict in Ukraine.
The 2023 Victory Day Parade
In total, around 10,000 soldiers and some 125 pieces of equipment took part in the parade, including Yars, S-400, and Iskander-M missile systems. However, the usual fly-by of Russian military aircraft was also canceled.
Moreover, whilst the Moscow Victory Day Parade was a truly scaled-back affair, other events across Russia were officially canceled over “security concerns” – even as some Western observers suggested a lack of equipment was a larger factor.
The presence of the single tank in Red Square received mockery on social media.
“I think it is safe to assume that Ukrainian farmers now have a larger reserve of Russian tanks,” wrote Kyiv Post correspondent Jason Jay Smart (@officejjsmart) on Twitter.
Despite the fact that the event was smaller than usual, Russian President Vladimir Putin used the occasion to suggest that Russia is now engaged in a major conflict and falsely claimed that the West had provoked the war in Ukraine.
“A true war has been unleashed against our motherland,” Putin said on Tuesday. “We have repelled international terrorism and to fit we will defend the residents of Donbas and secure our own safety. Russia has no unfriendly nations in the West or in the East.”
The Russian leader further suggested the conflict in Ukraine is one that is much like the war against the Nazis in World War II, and boldly stated that civilization could be at a turning point.
“There is no more important thing now than your combat work,” Putin said of the soldiers fighting in Ukraine. However, the Russian leader made no mention of the high casualties Russia suffered in the war.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.