Thousands of Russian troops marched across Red Square under the eye of Vladimir Putin on Saturday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s World War II victory over Nazi Germany.

The largest Victory Day parade since the fall of the Soviet Union showed off Russia’s biggest nuclear missiles and some of Mr. Putin’s best new military hardware, including the much touted Armata T-14 tank.

In comments subtly directed at NATO, Mr. Putin said that military alliances were gaining strength and warned against a unipolar world—shorthand in Moscow for the global influence of the U.S. In another apparent jab at Washington, he said that the principles of international cooperation were being ignored.

“We have seen attempts to create a unipolar world. We see how military-bloc thinking is gaining force. All this undermines the sustainability of global development,” Mr. Putin said in front of war veterans, their chests heavy with medals, wiping away tears.

“Our common goal should be the development of a system of equal security for all governments. System adequate [to deal with] modern threats, built on regional and global nonaligned bases. Only then can we ensure peace and tranquility in the world,” he said.

Unlike the parade ten years ago, when U.S. President George W. Bush sat next to Mr. Putin to watch the soldiers march by, this year’s celebrations, boycotted by most Western leaders, highlighted the divisions wrought by the crisis in Ukraine.

This year, Mr. Putin was flanked by Chinese Premier Xi Jinping, underscoring Russia’s turn to the East in the face of Western sanctions. On the eve of the parade, Messrs. Xi and Putin signed a raft of deals to cement closer ties, including a promise from China to offer up to $25 billion to Russian companies who are facing an economic crisis at home.

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