3 Feb 2013

Stalingrad commemorations

5:15 am on 3 February 2013

President Vladimir Putin of Russia is leading tributes to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the battle of Stalingrad.

About one million people are thought to have died in the battle, which is considered one of the major turning points of World War II.

The defeat of the German forces threw Adolf Hitler's offensive in the Soviet Union into disarray.

Some German veterans have also been invited to the tribute, along with senior military commanders from Russia's allies in the war - Britain and the United States, the BBC reports.

Stalingrad was renamed Volgograd in 1961, but its wartime name has been resurrected for the commemorations.

"At the heart of all Russia's victories and achievements are patriotism, faith and strength of spirit," Mr Putin said in a televised speech on Friday.

"In Word War II, these true values inspired our people and our army."

Mr Putin will lead the commemorations at the battle site, which will include a military parade and a wreath-laying ceremony at the eternal flame in the Hall of Heroes. There will also be an 18-gun salute with World War II-era Soviet artillery.