For the first time in history, Russian troops will be joined by the troops of former USSR’s World War II allies in a Victory parade on Red Square on May 9 (the World War II Victory Day). A preliminary agreement with military and politics official of France, the USA and Great Britain has been reached. Invitations have been sent to all heads of the CIS countries, except for the President of Georgia. The Kremlin chose not to invite the troops of the former Soviet republics.
Vladimir Kozhin, head of the department of Presidential affairs, announced earlier that for the first time in history of Victory parades on Red Square, Russia invited military contingents of NATO member countries, namely, France, the USA and Great Britain, to participate in the parade to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Great Victory. According to Kozhin, the preliminary agreement has been reached, and the final decision on the issue is to be made in the near future. He clarified that he was not talking about the war veterans who would participate in the parade as honorary guests, Kommersant reports.
As of now, only participation of the French contingent has been fully coordinated. The French government and Ministry of Defense accepted the invitation. The French contingent will include 70 air force soldiers (including three officers). They will march on Red Square under the banner of the legendary Normandie-Niemen fighter squadron of the French Air Force. Currently, the squadron is virtually disbanded and removed from active duty.
If the US government makes a positive decision regarding participation of its troops in the parade, its contingent will most likely include 70 people. British officials said that the final decision had not been made yet, but is expected in the near future.
It was earlier reported that the Kremlin would not send out official invitations to the world leaders. According to Kozhin, Moscow was expecting a visit from the French President Nicolas Sarkozy. He said that Barack Obama's participation remained open, while a visit from Gordon Brown was expected unless he preferred to stay at home on the ground of a busy schedule and tense relations with Russia.