MOSCOW - Russia is pulling out all the stops for celebrations on Saturday marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany with 16,000 troops marching in a Red Square parade, along with hundreds of units of military hardware.
In a defiant show of military strength despite international condemnation over its actions in Ukraine, Russia will roll out new Koalitsiya-SV howitzers as well as cutting-edge Armata T-14 tanks for the first time.
The Armata tanks are only set to go into service in 2016 but Russia is already boasting they will be the most powerful in the world.
All in all, 194 units of military hardware and 143 planes and helicopters will take part in the parade.
Even the weather is not left up to chance.
Early Saturday, planes will seed rain clouds with chemicals such as silver iodide in a bid to prevent them bursting over central Moscow during the morning parade.
Russia says this method of warding off rain does not damage the environment. It plans to spend a record 400 million rubles ($7.77 million) this year to ensure that major national holidays are drizzle-free.
Although Moscow invited 68 heads of state and leaders of international organisations, only around 20 have confirmed their attendance, including Chinese President Xi Jinping and Cuban President Raul Castro. UN chief Ban Ki-moon is also expected to attend the Victory Day events.
More than 1,300 foreign troops, including Serbs, Indians and Chinese, will participate in the parade.
The event's logo showing a white dove on a blue background with the slogan "Victory! 70 years!" is splashed over a giant banner on Red Square measuring 3,300 square metres.
Around the city, billboards show images of wartime commanders and joyful faces of members of the public on Victory Day.
The orange-and-black St George's ribbon, a symbol of patriotism which Russians wear to commemorate the WWII victory, is also a key element of the decorative scheme.
The Moscow metro, famed for its chandeliers and mosaics, is running a special "Victory Train", whose carriages are lined with photographs of the war.
Even the street lighting along the banks of the Moscow River has been changed to resemble that used during spring 1945 celebrations.