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(USATODAY.com) - Russia is marking its annual Victory Day celebration with a large display of military might in Moscow amid rising tensions over Ukraine that have led to a renewed surge in patriotic feeling.

"It is a holiday when an overwhelming force of patriotism triumphs, when all of us feel particularly acutely what it means to be loyal to the Motherland and how important it is to defend its interests," Russian President Vladimir said, addressing crowds on Red Square, as thousands of troops marched to the tunes of patriotic songs.

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Some 150 military vehicles and about 70 combat aircraft took part in the show, an event that gives Moscow the opportunity to show off its military hardware to the world.

Putin made no reference to the situation in Ukraine when he opened Friday's parade, focusing on the historic importance of the victory over Nazi Germany, but this year's parade was larger than it has been in recent years.

Victory Day is Russia's most important secular holiday and a key element of the national identity, reflecting the nation's enormous suffering and honoring millions of victims of World War II.

Contributing: Associated Press

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