Putin presides at events marking end of Stalingrad battle

President Vladimir Putin is attending commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory in the battle of Stalingrad.

Putin on Friday visited Volgograd, the current name of the city in southern Russia that stretches along the western bank of the Volga River.

The city was renamed in 1961 as part of the Soviet Union's rejection of dictator Joseph Stalin's personality cult. But the name Stalingrad remains inextricably linked to the historic battle that turned the tide of WWII.

The five months of fighting in Stalingrad between August 1942 and February 1943 is regarded as the bloodiest war battle in history. The death toll for soldiers and civilians was about 2 million. Most of the city was reduced to rubble before Nazi forces surrendered on Feb. 2, 1943.