Russia marks World War II Victory Day with ceremonies, parades

Russia is commemorating the former Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two with ceremonies and parades on Thursday. Victory Day is one of the most important holidays in Russia.

A military parade with tanks and marching troops was held in Russia's Far Eastern city of Vladivostok.

The parade also featured the Bastion anti-ship missile system, which is deployed on one of the Russian-held islands claimed by Japan. Japan says the islands were illegally occupied after World War Two.

Some of the people watching the parade waved flags with the letter "Z," a symbol of support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The state-run Tass news agency says military parades have been planned for 28 cities. But events were canceled in the western region of Kursk, which neighbors Ukraine, and some other locations for security reasons.

In the capital Moscow, a commemorative ceremony is scheduled to begin in Red Square at 10 a.m. President Vladimir Putin is to give a speech. Putin started his fifth term in office on Tuesday.

Putin is expected to call for unity of the people for what he calls the special military operation in Ukraine by invoking memories of the defeat of Nazi Germany. Last Friday marked 800 days since the invasion of Ukraine began.