MOSCOW, May 9 (UPI) -- Russia showed off its military might Monday, the 71st anniversary of the Soviet Union's triumph over Nazi Germany during World War II.
The annual Victory Day parade featured about 10,000 military members, 135 armored vehicles and 71 aircraft. The recently formed anti-terrorism, anti-organized crime National Guard of Russia and space forces also joined the parade for the first time.
Moscow's Red Square was packed with marching and singing Russian soldiers and heavy military machinery, including the RS-24 Yars long-range nuclear missile and MSTA-S howitzers artillery. Russian President Vladimir Putin was in attendance, flanked by high-ranking military officials and Soviet veterans.
Russia has spent billions of dollars in recent years to update its military, particularly after Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea in Ukraine that led to heightened tension with NATO.
Russia suffered the highest death toll among all combatants in the war between the Allies and the Axis powers during World War II. About 23 million Soviet soldiers and civilians died in what was The Great Patriotic War in Russia.
"The Great Patriotic War will always be an outstanding, sacred deed of our people, a call to live honestly, hold high the bar of truth and justice and pass these values on from one generation to the next," Putin said in a parade address.
Putin made a seemingly derogatory reference to Western powers, particularly the United States' support for Syrian rebel groups that Russia and ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad view as terrorists.
"Comrades, history lessons teach us that peace on Earth is not established by itself; that one needs to be cautious; that double standards as well as shortsighted indulgence of those who nurture criminal plans are impermissible," Putin said.
Fighter jets including supersonic Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire bombers, MiG-29 jets and the latest SU-35 fighters flew above the Red Square. Russia also held a parade in its Khmeimim airbase in Syria. The modern, highly automated T-14 Armata tank, which is set to replace older tank models, also was shown.
Victory Day celebrations have been held nearly every year since the 20th anniversary of the Russian victory in 1965. The tradition was suspended after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, but it was revived in 1995.