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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that an upcoming display
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that an upcoming display of the country's military hardware in a Victory Day parade in Red Square on May 9 does not mean Moscow is threatening anyone.

"For the first time in many years, military hardware will be involved in the parade. This is not saber-rattling. We threaten no one and do not intend to do so," Putin said at his last meeting with Cabinet and Kremlin administration members.

"It is a simple display of our growing defense capability," he added.

Moscow's Red Square hosted on Monday the final rehearsal for the Victory Day parade, which will feature for the first time in almost two decades a formidable display of Russia's military might.

Victory Day marks the final surrender by Nazi Germany to the U.S.S.R. in WWII, often referred to as the Great Patriotic War in Russia and other states in the former Soviet Union.

After a 17-year break, outgoing President Vladimir Putin gave the go ahead for the resumption of flyovers by strategic bombers and displays of sophisticated military hardware during this year's Victory Day parade.

President Putin's second term has seen a rise in tensions with the West, as a resurgent Russia, awash with oil dollars, looks to reestablish itself as a global power.

By the time Victory Day comes around, however, Russia will have a new president, with Dmitry Medvedev due to be inaugurated on May 7. Putin is set to take up the post of premier, as well as head of the ruling United Russia party, and analysts are at a loss as to predict exactly how this 'power-sharing' will play out.

During the rehearsal for the parade, a crowd of spectators cheered the appearance of formidable T-90 main battle tanks, Smerch multiple-launch rocket systems, S-300 air defense systems, Iskander-M tactical missile systems and Topol-M ballistic missile systems.

Several Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95 Bear strategic bombers, a Tu-22M Backfire long-range bomber and Russia's aerobatic teams, Strizhi and Russkiye Vityazi flew over Red Square at an altitude of about 1,000 feet.

The first Victory Parade was held on Red Square on June 24, 1945 on the order of the then-Supreme Commander-in-Chief, Joseph Stalin.


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