Russian troops will participate in a parade in Beijing in September, commemorating the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced Sunday. The announcement came after China invited Russian soldiers to march at the event, which is scheduled for Sept. 3.
China is expected to invite representatives from the Allied forces of World War II, but the involvement of Russian soldiers in the parade could discourage some Western leaders from attending the event, Reuters reported, adding that the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin could leave Chinese President Xi Jinping with few Western leaders to host.
“We gladly accepted the invitation by the minister of defense of the People's Republic of China to take part in celebrations on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II on September 3 this year. We agreed to send a subdivision of the Russian Armed Forces to the military parade,” RIA Novosti quoted Shoigu as saying.
During Xi’s recent visit to Moscow, both countries signed 32 bilateral agreements, including a non-aggression pledge in cyber warfare. The deals have highlighted a renewal of ties between China and Russia, as the latter’s relation with the West has soured over the past few months.
In a defense ministry statement, Fan Changlong, deputy chairman of China's Central Military Commission, said that Beijing “warmly welcomes Russian military leaders and army formations” to participate in the September event. Fan also stated that Xi’s recent visit to Russia and his appearance at the Victory Day parade in Moscow on Saturday “pushed the China-Russia all-round strategic partnership relationship to a new level,” Reuters reported.
Chinese forces helped the Allies hold off the Japanese offensive in China until Russian troops came through to push the Japanese out of Manchuria.
The Moscow parade, which marked the former Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in 1945, was boycotted by Western nations, including the U.S., U.K., and France, over Russia's role in the crisis in eastern Ukraine. The only Western leader to join Putin was Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
The September parade in Beijing, when troops will likely march through Tiananmen Square, will be Xi’s first since he became leader of the Communist Party and the country’s military chief in late 2012, and took over as China’s president in early 2013.