Russia re-enacts legendary World War II parade in Moscow

A horse-drawn cart with a machine gun takes part in a reconstruction of a World War II-era parade in Moscow's Red Square with St. Basil Cathedral in the background, Russia, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (AP)

Russian troops clad in World War II-era uniforms marched Thursday across Moscow's Red Square in a reconstruction of a legendary wartime parade.

The Nov. 7, 1941, parade saw Red Army soldiers move directly to the front line in the Battle of Moscow, becoming a symbol of Soviet valor and tenacity in the face of overwhelming odds.

The Nazi forces approached Moscow in October 1941 as the Red Army suffered a series of devastating defeats after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. They came as close as 30 kilometres (less than 19 miles) to the city in some areas and Nazi officers were able to see Moscow's landmarks in binoculars.

Russian soldiers march during a reconstruction of a World War II-era parade in Moscow's Red Square, Russia, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019. (AP)

As Moscow's fate was hanging in the balance, Soviet leader Josef Stalin ordered the parade to boost the morale of the city's defenders. The Soviet command eventually managed to bring in fresh troops from the country's east and launch a counteroffensive that drove the Nazis back. It was the Nazis' first major defeat since the start of World War II.

Participants march near St. Basil's Cathedral during preparations for a military parade to mark the anniversary of a historical parade in 1941, when Soviet soldiers marched towards the front lines during World War Two, on Red Square in central Moscow, Russia November 7, 2019. (Reuters)

Thursday's re-enactment featured about 4,000 troops, vintage T-34 tanks and other vehicles.

During Soviet times, annual military parades were held on Nov. 7 to mark the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. The holiday was abolished in 2005, but communist party members still celebrate it.