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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Moscow Victory Parade Puts Depletion Of Russian Army On Display

In the second year of the war, the Kremlin looks weak while Putin brags about defending the homeland from outside attacks.

Image of Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on an Aurus Senate convertible reviews troops during a Victory Day military parade in Red Square, Moscow.

May 9, 2023: Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on an Aurus Senate convertible reviews troops during a Victory Day military parade in Red Square, Moscow.

Grigory Sysoyev/ZUMA


MOSCOW — First, here are the numbers: Some 8,000 military personnel participated in the May 9 Victory Parade on the Red Square in Moscow. That is the lowest number of participants since 2008.

Several military formations did not participate in the parade, including some regiments that have suffered significant losses in Ukraine. This Victory Day parade also featured are less equipment than last year: no modern tanks or military machines, and the aviation demonstration was canceled.

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In 2022, 11,000 troops participated in the parade. During the first wave of COVID in 2020, when the parade was postponed due to the pandemic, there were nonetheless 14,000 military personnel on hand.

Several of the military formations that were represented last year were not on the pavement of Red Square on Tuesday: the 4th Guards Kantemirov Tank Division, the Taman Division, the 27th Independent Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade of Sevastopol, and the 45th Independent Engineer Brigade were absent.

Compensating with heads of state

During the Ukrainian counteroffensive last fall, the 4th Guards Kantemirov Tank Division was heading toward Kharkiv. The American Institute for the Study of War later reported that it severe damage was inflicted on the division around that time.

Instead, the Kremlin worked hard at bringing in the maximum number of heads of state for the Victory Day parade since 2020. Though no major world leader was there, regional presidents of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, and the Armenian Prime Minister, overall seven foreign heads of state took part in the Victory Parade in Moscow this time.

To avoid any terrorist acts, why was the Kremlin so eager to invite all of these important foreign guests?

Back in April, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed that foreign leaders were not invited to this year's parade because "the date is not a round number," and only the president of Kyrgyzstan, whose official visit to Russia coincided with Victory Day celebrations, would attend it. The other presidents made their decision apparently at the last minute.

Image of Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko (C) attending a Victory Day military parade in Red Square, Moscow.

May 9, 2023: Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko attends a Victory Day military parade in Red Square, Moscow.

Gavriil Grigorov/ZUMA

A "real war"

Recall that on May 4, a military drone was shot down over the Kremlin, and the state's press service immediately announced that it was an act of terrorism aimed at killing the Russian President Vladimir Putin. And yet, to avoid any terrorist acts on the Victory Day, why was the Kremlin so eager to invite all of these important foreign guests?

During his speech at the parade, Vladimir Putin repeated his usual talking points about a "new campaign" by the West against Russia that uses "neo-Nazi scum from all over the world," the ideology of the superiority of "Western globalist elites" and promised to prevail in this conflict.

"Against our homeland again, a real war has been unleashed, but we fought back against international terrorism," Putin said. "We will also protect the residents of Donbas; we will ensure our safety." Russians, and the rest of the world, already have an eye on next May 9.

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New Delhi Postcard: How A G20 Makeover Looks After The World Leaders Go Home

Before the G20 summit, which took place in New Delhi from Sept. 9-10, Indian authorities carried out a "beautification" of the city. Entire slums were bulldozed, forcing some of the city's most vulnerable residents into homelessness.

image of a slum with a girl

A slum in New Delhi, India.

Clément Perruche

NEW DELHI — Three cinder blocks with a plank, a gas bottle, a stove and a lamp are all that's left for Chetram, 32, who now lives with his wife and three children under a road bridge in Moolchand Basti, central Delhi.

"On March 28, the police came at 2 p.m. with their demolition notice. By 4 p.m., the bulldozers were already there," Chetram recalls.

All that remains of their house is a few stones, testimony to their former life.

Before hosting the G20 summit on Sept. 9 and 10, Indian authorities gave the capital a quick makeover. Murals were painted on the walls. The portrait of Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister, was plastered all over the city. And to camouflage the poverty that is still rampant in Delhi, entire neighborhoods have been demolished, leaving tens of thousands of vulnerable people homeless.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) carried out the demolitions in the name of beautifying the city.

"Personally, I'd call it the Delhi Destruction Authority," says Sunil Kumar Aledia, founder of the Center for Holistic Development, an NGO that helps the poorest people in Delhi. "The G20 motto was: 'One earth, one family, one future.' The poor are clearly not part of the family."

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