Putin addresses Victory Day ceremony in Moscow

Russians have commemorated the former Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany with a ceremony in the capital Moscow. Victory Day celebrations were held across Russia amid the country's invasion of Ukraine.

Russia marked the 79th anniversary of the World War Two victory on Thursday in ceremonies and military parades held in more than 20 cities.

The Moscow event started in Red Square in a flurry of snow at 10 a.m. with an address by President Vladimir Putin.

Putin said Russia will not allow anyone to threaten the country. He also said Russia's strategic forces are always combat-ready.

The president referred to his country's military strength, including nuclear forces, in an apparent bid to keep Western nations that support Ukraine in check.

Putin ended his speech by expressing confidence that a free, safe future for Russia and its people will be ensured. He renewed his call for the people to unite for victory in Ukraine.

The address was followed by a military parade showing weapons Russia is using on the Ukrainian front, including the short-range ballistic missile Iskander.

It also featured the intercontinental ballistic missile Yars, which is central to Russia's nuclear arsenal.

This year's parade included more than 70 weapons, along with more than 9,000 marching troops, including those fighting in Ukraine.

The scale was down from the 2021 parade, which involved more than 190 weapons and over 12,000 troops. The event was downsized after Russia began its invasion in 2022.

The Moscow ceremony was attended by leaders of former Soviet republics, including Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a key ally of Putin. Those from Cuba and some African nations were also present.

But leaders of Western nations stayed away amid Russia's prolonged invasion of Ukraine.