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US Troops March in Moscow's Red Square

Sunday, 09 May 2010 09:39 PM

MOSCOW - U.S. troops marched through Red Square for the first time in a Victory Day parade on Sunday as Russia celebrated the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II.

It was a scene cut from Russia's Cold War nightmares: 71 Americans in dark blue dress uniforms carried the U.S. flag over the cobblestones, past the mausoleum of Vladimir Lenin and the towers of the Kremlin wall to salute Russian leaders.

French, British and Polish soldiers also took part in the parade in a tribute to the role the Allies played in what Russia called the Great Patriotic War. Under clear skies, the reviewing stands were packed with Russian officials, foreign dignitaries and hundreds of aging war veterans.


"In 1945, not only a military but also a great moral victory was achieved, a common victory," President Dmitry Medvedev told the crowd. Soldiers of various countries marching Sunday in a single formation "is evidence of our common readiness to defend peace, not to allow the revision of the outcomes of war and new tragedies."

But in the weeks leading up to the parade, the inclusion of foreign soldiers sparked controversy in some corners of Russian politics.

Author Alexander Prokhanov, editor in chief of the nationalist Zavtra daily, called the appearance of U.S. servicemen in Red Square a national humiliation.

"The fact that American troops are trampling underfoot the cobblestones of Red Square is a huge shame and humiliation for Russia," Prokhanov said. "Thus they are celebrating their final victory not in World War II but in the Cold War."

Many Russians have long resented what they see as the West's tendency to minimize Russia's role in the allied victory over Nazi Germany. By most counts, more than 20 million Russian soldiers and civilians were killed during the conflict, the greatest toll suffered by any single nation.

Despite the mutterings, the visiting U.S. soldiers were feted by the government. Last week, they were presented with medals during a ceremony at the Military University of the Russian Defense Ministry.

"It is a great honor for me to take part in the parade and represent America," said Pfc. Michael Hagen, 20, from Atlanta, whose grandfather fought in the Pacific with the U.S. Navy.

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MOSCOW - U.S. troops marched through Red Square for the first time in a Victory Day parade on Sunday as Russia celebrated the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II.
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2010-39-09
Sunday, 09 May 2010 09:39 PM
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