Medvedev: Russia’s military “gaining in strength and power”

ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP/Getty Images Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said today that the Russian military is “gaining in strength and power like all of Russia.” To prove it, he marched troops, tanks, and Topol-M nuclear missiles around Red Square today. The event was reportedly planned as early as January, and Medvedev was so intent on making the Soviet-style show of ...

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ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said today that the Russian military is "gaining in strength and power like all of Russia."

To prove it, he marched troops, tanks, and Topol-M nuclear missiles around Red Square today. The event was reportedly planned as early as January, and Medvedev was so intent on making the Soviet-style show of prowess a success that he ordered Russia's air force to make sure no clouds rained on the festivities. So they carried out a cloud seeding operation in advance of the parade. Meant to mark the 63rd anniversary of the victory of Nazi Germany, it was the first parade of its kind in Red Square since 1990.

ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said today that the Russian military is “gaining in strength and power like all of Russia.”

To prove it, he marched troops, tanks, and Topol-M nuclear missiles around Red Square today. The event was reportedly planned as early as January, and Medvedev was so intent on making the Soviet-style show of prowess a success that he ordered Russia’s air force to make sure no clouds rained on the festivities. So they carried out a cloud seeding operation in advance of the parade. Meant to mark the 63rd anniversary of the victory of Nazi Germany, it was the first parade of its kind in Red Square since 1990.

It is right to consider the images coming out of the parade as a bit disconcerting. But press reports from the scene seem a bit over the top, with stories of “glamorous” troops and “mixed messages.” This ignores the realities of today’s Russian military. Moscow-based defense analyst Pavel Falgenhauer provides a good reality check:

Russia still has large stocks of Soviet-made military hardware; most of it fully or partially out of order. Only a handful of ships, tanks, and jets are truly operational at any given time…. The task of reviving defense hardware parades on Red Square will face grave technical and logistical problems and in any event will most likely produce only a pathetic imitation of Soviet military grandeur…. One can only hope that …  no ancient building will collapse as tanks and ICBMs roll into central Moscow to serve the vanity of Russia’s leaders.”

Let’s not get carried away with the Cold War nostalgia just yet.

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