Victory Day parades, which only became an annual event after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, have taken on increasing importance in projecting Russia's renewed military might during Putin's two decades of power. While the main event was held at Red Square, in Moscow similar events, also took place Sunday in dozens of cities across Russia.
Show of Might
More than 12,000 military personnel took part in Sunday's parade, as well as some 190 pieces of military equipment and 76 fighter jets and helicopters.
In spite of the Pandemic
This year's Victory Day was the second during the coronavirus pandemic.
"For me and my family, this holiday marks the victory of the entire Russian people," Yulia Gulevskikh, a 31-year-old accountant told AFP in the Far East city of Vladivostok.
"We are proud, remember and honour all our relatives and friends. And all the brave soldiers," she added, noting she was happy the parade took place despite pandemic measures.
Tensions with the west
Sunday's commemorations came as Russia in recent weeks has seen its diplomats expelled from a clutch of European countries over espionage scandals, while the United States and the European Union have levied new sanctions on Moscow over the treatment of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and allegations of hacking and cyberattacks.
Defending Russia's interests
Putin, who has been in power as either president or prime minister since 1999, stood beside Soviet war veterans on a review platform set up on Red Square.
"Russia will again and again uphold international law, but at the same time we will firmly protect national interests (and) ensure the security of our people."
Sunday's parade follows a massive show of Russian military force near the borders of Ukraine and in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Kyiv in 2014, and an uptick in fighting in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian government forces.