Putin calls for anti-terror coalition as Russia flexes muscles on Victory Day

Putin calls for anti-terror coalition as Russia flexes muscles on Victory Day
A YARS intercontinental ballistic missile system on Moscow's Red Square on May 9.
By bne IntelliNews May 9, 2016

Russia rolled out the cutting-edge military hardware for the 71st Victory Day parade in Moscow on May 9, with a message from President Vladimir Putin that his country's fighting muscle is available for a unified global war on terror.

Before thousands of troops and columns of tanks and rockets rumbled across Red Square, the Russian leader saluted the nation's feats and sacrifices in World War II. While warning against "double standards" in the world today, Putin then echoed a call he made before the United Nations in September for a broad and concerted campaign against terrorism.

"Today civilisation is once again faced with cruelty and violence - terrorism has become a global threat. We must defeat this evil, and Russia is open to joining forces with all states, ready to work on the creation of a modern, non-bloc system of international security," Putin said in a short address.

However, differences exemplified in the Syrian conflict about which groups should be listed as terrorist have hamstrung broader coordination in this field between Russia and Western states. So too have disputes over Nato enlargement and tensions over Russia's 2014 seizure of Crimea and support for the insurgency in East Ukraine prevented joint anti-terrorist initiatives.

Tensions are also higher since Russian jets buzzed a US warship in the Baltic Sea in April, with Moscow responding to extra Nato deployments in the region by announcing that it will form new army units along its western border.

Putin was flanked on the podium at this year's parade by Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev. In 2015 he was joined by Chinese President Xi Jinping, but no Western leaders attended those milestone 70th celebrations in protest at the situation around Ukraine.

Full-fledged Soviet-style military parades with heavy weaponry were resumed on Red Square in 2008 under Putin. This year some 10,000 military personnel and 135 pieces of military hardware passed before the leadership at the Kremlin wall before a fly-over by more than 70 planes and helicopters.

More parades were held in cities across Russia as well as other former Soviet republics amid heightened security measures on this prominent calendar date. The official parades were followed in many places by the so-called Immortal Regiment marches by citizens carrying photographs of relatives who served in the war. Putin took part in the Moscow march, bearing a photo of his father Vladimir, who was badly wounded defending Leningrad.

In the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, unidentified persons dispersed tear gas among the column of around 10,000 portrait bearers, reports said. No one was reported hurt in the incident.

In Tajikistan, authorities detained four alleged supporters of the Islamic State terrorist organisation for preparing attacks in the capital Dushanbe on the eve of the Victory Day events, the Interior Ministry told TASS.

In Moldova, which unlike some former Soviet republics like Georgia does not seek Nato membership, a display of US military equipment in central Chishinau on May 8 was presented as part of the celebrations, but instead drew hundreds of people onto the streets in protest.

Activists opposing Nato's presence in the republic waved banners saying "We don't need Nato" and "Moldova is a neutral state". Soon after the protests began, the exhibition was ended and the US troops returned to their stationing site in Negresti, located 20 kilometres outside the capital.