Tracing Russia's military ambitions

May 9 is a special day for Russians. This is the day which saw the downfall of Nazi Germany in World War II. Russians celebrate this Victory day every year.

Politicians, officials and a few war veterans attended the event, commemorating the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in Moscow’s Red Square last Monday.

President Vladimir Putin, on this occasion, asked the international community to unite in the fight against global terrorism.

People were seen marching through the capital carrying portraits of heroes who were part of the ‘Immortal regiment’. Former Soviet republics also celebrated this great day. There is so much of pride associated with the day when the Red Army won. A sad reality is that an estimated 27 million died which included soldiers and civilians.

The immense suffering which led to the massive victory is remembered every year and this is the most secular holiday of the Soviet Union. Preparations are done for this mega event days in advance.

Revisiting history

The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a non-aggression pact called the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on August 23, 1939. Territories of Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland were divided and ear-marked into German and Soviet ‘sphere of influence’. Germany invaded Poland in September 1939 and on the other hand, parts of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania were annexed by the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union admitted the existence of such a pact only in 1989. In June 1941, Hitler launched an invasion of the Soviet Union and the next four years, the brave hearts of the Soviet Union repulsed German offensives.

The Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of Kursk helped the Soviet Union emerge victorious.

The Soviet Union continued a war with Finland and also invaded Iran. It even attacked Japan in August 1945. Berlin finally fell in April 1945. Tremendous sacrifice made by the Soviet Union helped it emerge victorious.

Present-day scenario

Amid the nostalgic trumpeting of the past victories, Russia also used this opportunity to show off its modern-day might. It would only be right to concede that Russia’s military is perhaps more powerful now than at any other time since the Cold war.

Russia’s nuclear arsenal with intercontinental ballistic missiles is designed to counter missile shields from the U.S. Its anti-aircraft systems and fighter jets are being used in Syria which is causing severe damage.

Russia’s military might is grabbing headlines not only because of its weaponry but also because of its willingness to deploy it in other countries. The Russian army conducted airstrikes in Syria on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad and this has not caused any harm to Putin’s image within his country though foreign sanctions have been imposed.

The national defence budget of Russia is one of the highest in the world. Whatever said and done, the military enjoys great support among the public.