Ships from the Russian navy take part in the Main Naval Parade in St. Petersburg. Credit: VOA News.

It began with Russian President Vladimir Putin reading about the history of pre-Russian Revolution events on an airplane.

“I came across an article about the Main Naval Parade organized in pre-revolution Russia, in Kronshtadt,” Putin said.

“And after that, preparations began for a Main Naval Parade in St. Petersburg and other port cities. Indeed, it is becoming, it would be right to say, it has become a very good tradition, a big holiday not only for the navy men but also for the entire country.” 

The Main Naval Parade was held in Kronshtadt on Sunday, which was attended by a limited number of spectators due to Covid-19 restrictions, Peter Suciu of National Interest reported.

The festive events on the occasion of Russia’s Navy Day featured vessels of the Northern, Baltic, Black Sea, Pacific Fleets and Caspian flotilla, and involved 15,000 people, 219 vessels of various classes, 71 aircraft and 126 pieces of combat vehicles. 

To trumpet the weekend, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that the Russian Navy will be bolstered by the addition of some forty new ships this year, with a focus made on equipping those vessels with hypersonic strike missiles, National Interest reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told attendees at the Main Naval Parade in St. Petersburg that new Russian ships will be armed with hypersonic missiles. Credit: Kremlin pool.

“This year, forty ships and vessels of various classes will be put into service with [the Navy],” Putin said during remarks made on Sunday’s Main Navy Parade in St. Petersburg according to Russian state media. “The capability of our navy grows constantly.” 

“Unique advantages and improving the Fleet’s combat capabilities will be achieved due to broad introduction of advanced digital technologies, the world’s unparalleled hypersonic strike systems, unmanned underwater vehicles and due to the most effective self-defense means.”

The combination of speed, maneuverability and altitude of hypersonic missiles, capable of traveling at more than five times the speed of sound, makes them extremely difficult to stop.

Putin further noted that less than two weeks ago the Russian Navy laid down six new vessels at three leading Russian shipyards, and highlighted the fact that those new vessels will be equipped with high-precision arms, and will also include strategic underwater cruisers and multirole submarines, National Interest reported.

He also thanked the organizers and participants of Sunday’s event.

“I would like to thank you, the defense ministry’s top officials, the Navy command for the preparation for and holding of the Main Naval Parade in St. Petersburg and naval parades in other cities,” Putin was also quoted by Tass.

The Kremlin has made military modernization its top priority amid tensions with the West that followed Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

According to VOA News, Putin was spending the weekend away from Moscow, the Russian capital, where nearly 1,400 people were detained in a violent police crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

A Russian group that monitors police arrests gave the figure Sunday, saying it was the largest number of detentions at a rally in the Russian capital this decade.

Police wielded batons and wrestled with protesters around the Moscow City Hall after thousands thronged nearby streets, rallying against a move by election authorities to bar opposition candidates from the Sept. 8 ballot for the Moscow city council.

President Vladimir Putin greets Russian Navy brass at the Main Naval Parade in St. Petersburg. Credit: AFP.