May 14

After-Parade Report 2024: Russian Victory Day Vehicle Numbers Low, Same as Last Year

CIT has conducted for the third consecutive year, in collaboration with volunteers, an analysis of the military vehicles featured in May 9 parades across Russia commemorating the victory over Germany in WWII (see our reports for 2022 and 2023).  As part of this year’s analysis, we once again examined parades in 57 cities across the country, thus covering virtually all major Victory Day parades.

The main parade in Moscow’s Red Square, as in 2023, proceeded without any tracked vehicles, with the exception of an actual museum piece—a T-34-85 tank, and was relatively modest in scale. However, the number of military vehicles increased from 50 to 60 due to a growth in the number of armored fighting vehicles and armored cars. Russia’s then Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu had promised to showcase 75 pieces of weaponry and military vehicles at the parade. Nonetheless, as we have repeatedly stated, to get a more comprehensive understanding of trends within the Russian Armed Forces, one ought to analyze the parades that were held in other cities on that day.

In 2024, nearly the same number of military vehicles was presented at Victory Day parades across Russia as in 2023: 912 versus 910. Therefore, the downward trend in vehicle numbers, observed in 2023 and especially in 2022, is no longer evident. The number of cities where parades were canceled or proceeded without military vehicles has also remained almost unchanged: 15 in 2024 versus 14 in 2023.

The general trend stays constant even when the data is grouped by military district and year-on-year changes remain insignificant. The parades in the Central Military District had slightly fewer military vehicles, while those in the former Western Military District saw a few more. We have elected to continue using the now defunct Western Military District in this year's analysis, even though it was split into the Moscow and Leningrad Military Districts in 2024, in order to facilitate comparisons.

An interesting trend emerges when the parade columns are broken down by vehicle type: the overall count is maintained primarily through an increase in the number of lighter armored vehicles such as IMVs and MRAPs. Russian factories are embracing this type of vehicle due to its relative ease of production. At the same time, these types of armored vehicles are rarely involved in actual combat, consequently their losses are rather limited.

The number of armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles has remained virtually unchanged, as has the number of main battle tanks and multiple launch rocket systems. A higher number of towed artillery pieces led to a modest increase in the representation of tube artillery in parades, while self-propelled howitzers and mortars became even rarer.

The share of air defense systems has also declined, with almost all platforms appearing less often in parades. The only exceptions were the S-300 SAM systems and ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft twin autocannons, both of which increased in number compared to 2023.

We have seen few, if any, changes in the number of intercontinental and short-range ballistic missile systems, as well as support vehicles, including those used for communication, electronic warfare, engineering and logistics.

In conclusion, we reaffirm that the changes pinpointed above can hardly be regarded as substantial. Apparently, the lowest number of vehicles that was deemed acceptable to display at the parades was reached in 2023, when all operational equipment was employed in the combat zone. What was left available for the Victory Day processions were only vehicles that could be scrounged from the home bases of military units, training centers, military schools and training ranges. This equipment includes a relatively small but diversified range of weapons and vehicles intended to be used for training conscripts, contract soldiers recruited by the Ministry of Defense, and cadets. With this equipment, the current standards of the parades can be easily maintained in the future. Even if matters in Ukraine get drastically worse for Russia, these vehicles are unlikely to be needed on the frontline.

Therefore, the observed trend may continue into the next year, should the parades still take place. Although some adjustments may be introduced to mark the 80th anniversary of the victory in Moscow, we do not expect any significant changes in the overall picture. The range of weapons and vehicles on display at the parades may even be reduced, while their numbers will remain the same, as Russia ramps up production of simpler models of armored vehicles.

For more details and the numbers of vehicles per location, click here.

We wish to express our sincere thanks to our volunteers who reviewed the footage of dozens of parades to help complete this report.