Skip to main content

Hello. It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience possible, please make sure any blockers are switched off and refresh the page.

If you have any questions or need help you can email us

The Big Picture: The Russian submarine Orel

Four tug boats manoeuvre the Russian submarine Orel into position in the Gulf of Finland during preparations for Russia’s Navy Day parade.

Four tug boats manoeuvre the Russian submarine Orel into position in the Gulf of Finland during preparations for Russia’s Navy Day parade, which takes place this weekend

Credit: Peter Kovalev/TASS/Getty

The event involves a two-hour procession of warships along the Neva River in St Petersburg and past the naval base of Kronstadt, which is located on an island off the city.

It was first introduced by the USSR in 1939 to commemorate the Battle of Gangut, a 1714 defeat of the Swedish Navy that represented the Imperial Russian Navy’s first significant victory.

The event was then cancelled by the Soviets in 1980 before being revived by Vladimir Putin in 2017. He claims to have conceived of the idea while reading historical literature during a flight on his presidential plane, and of learning of a naval parade at Kronstadt during the Imperial era.

The Russian president typically uses the day as an opportunity to showcase his country’s military might and it is not without controversy. Similar, if smaller, events are held at other Russian naval bases including in Sevastopol, in the annexed Crimea region of Ukraine.

Another is due to be held at Tartus, in Syria, where the Russians have a base.

And Putin has already made a splash this year, with the announcement this week that Russia has developed a new Zircon hypersonic cruise missile. It was launched from a frigate located in the White Sea, in the north of Russia, and is said to be capable of flying at nine times the speed of sound and have a range of 620 miles.

The Royal Danish Navy closely monitors ships moving through its territorial waters to get to the St Petersburg parade, in order to minimise the risks of incidents at sea.