Moscow: Russia ended celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany on Saturday (May 9) with a lavish fireworks show above the Kremlin.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and about 30 foreign leaders joined thousands gathered to watch the spectacular display in the heart of Moscow.
Bright colours exploded over the Moscow skies at the climax of a concert held in Red Square, bringing to an end a day where cities and towns across Russia held festivities to mark the end of World War Two in Europe.
The celebrations this year were boycotted by Western leaders over Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin has used the anniversary to whip up patriotism and fuel anti-Western sentiment, and at a parade in Kiev President Petro Poroshenko said Moscow was trying to hog the credit for the World War Two victory at Ukraine’s expense.
Foreign dignitaries that joined Putin under the Kremlin’s walls for Victory Day included Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel skipped the parade, as did U.S. President Barack Obama and the French and British leaders, but will attend a wreath-laying ceremony in Moscow on Sunday (May 10).
Many Russians saw the West’s boycotting of the parade as disrespect. An estimated 27 million Soviet citizens were killed in the 1941-45 war. Ukraine says it lost between 8-10 million of its citizens, including 3.5 million in the Soviet forces.