The toll Russia’s war in Ukraine is taking on its own armed forces was apparently laid bare as a major military parade attended by President Putin was graced by just one tank, and an 80-year-old one at that.
May 9th is one of the most important days in the Russian civic calendar as the country celebrates the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945, but despite the fact the occasion is typically a showcase for Russian military prowess, this year the parade was conspicuously short of tanks.
While estimates vary, the toll of Russian dead including military battlefield casualties and civilians killed on the home front in World War Two is around 24 million: consequently, the anniversary of the end of the conflict remains an important day for celebration and commemoration. While in previous years the parade at the Kremlin has seen a review of Russian armour including the nation’s latest tanks, today’s parade was considerably scaled back.
The parade in Moscow didn't have any modern tanks, infantry fighting vehicles or aviation. It was one of the smallest in Russian history, taking less than 10 minutes.
There was one T-34 tank that took part in WWII. No Iskanders, Armata tanks, aviation. The walking part of the… pic.twitter.com/WA0EIYnEaj
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) May 9, 2023
There was no air flyby at all, and just one tank, a vintage model built in the 1940s actually running. At least two other T-34 tanks could be seen stationary on the periphery of Red Square during the day’s events, possibly on standby to fill in if the elderly star of the show suffered mechanical problems.
But as far as tanks went, that was it. The parade also featured dozens of lighter vehicles including Soviet-era BTR armoured fighting vehicles, Typhoon MRAPs, and infantry Jeep-type ‘Tiger’ 4x4s escorting large missile launch trucks like the S-400.
Footage of previous May 9th parades shows a real presence of modern Russian tanks such as the T-90 — Russia’s most advanced operational tank which has been destroyed and captured in Ukraine recently — older workhorses like the T72, and even experimental tank projects like the much-discussed T-14 Armata. Even the vintage tanks were driven across Red Square in greater numbers, with ten T34 — a single example of which drove today — appearing in 2021.