A train carrying war “trophies” captured in Syria left Moscow on Saturday on a two-month tour to parade Russia’s military gains in the eight-year conflict.
The train went on show at Moscow’s Kazansky station, before heading to Russian-annexed Crimea. It will then make its way to the Russian Far East, before returning to Moscow in April via Arctic, visiting 60 cities along the way.
The Russian defense ministry said in a statement that it will travel 28,500 kilometers carrying “trophy weapons”.
On Saturday, Muscovites were invited to see the train, which carries tanks and other military vehicles captured from Syrian rebels and militants.
Visitors could board carriages displaying captured AK-47 assault rifles and drones. The train also has a shop selling military souvenirs.
Singers performed patriotic songs at the train station as soldiers presented the heavy weaponry to visitors.
Soviet-era military holiday
The event was planned for Russia’s Defender of the Fatherland Day -- a Soviet-era military holiday still celebrated on February 23.
Aleksey, a 31-year-old railway worker from Moscow who refused to give his last name, brought his toddler son to see the train.
“I am really proud that they (the Russian army) are winning in this far away region,” he told AFP.
He brought his son “so that he can see that we have a strong army” and said that he was “impressed” with the weapons on show.
A group of army conscripts was also brought to the station to see the train depart.
“The aim is to show a maximum amount of people in our country the success of the Russian army in the fight with international terrorism,” Colonel Dmitry Serobaba told AFP.
On Friday, President Vladimir Putin congratulated Russian war veterans and serving soldiers on their role in Syria.
“By freeing Syrian lands from bandits and saving peaceful civilians, our soldiers are acting boldly, decisively and effectively,” he said at a Kremlin ceremony.
Russia has been a key player in the Syrian conflict since launching a military intervention in 2015 in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which now controls almost two-thirds of the country.
The eight-year conflict has left more than 360,000 dead.