RUSSIANS have observed the 70th anniversary of the Red Army victory in the Battle of Stalingrad.
The siege, which marked a decisive turn in the war against the Nazis, was one of the bloodiest fights in modern history.
Volgograd - known then as Stalingrad - suffered intense fighting for six months from September 1942 as Hitler's Fifth Army tried to crush Soviet resistance, and so secure the oil fields to the south.
Taking part in the city's commemoration, President Vladimir Putin said "Stalingrad will forever be a symbol of (the) unity and invincibility of our people, a symbol of genuine patriotism, of the greatest victory of the Soviet liberator soldier. And as long as we are devoted to Russia, our language, culture, roots and national memory, Russia will be invincible.
"St Petersburg governor Georgry Poltavchenko said the victory was not thanks to "military genius" but the strength of the Russian people.
At least 1.2 million were estimated to have died before the German surrender on February, 2 1943.
Most of the Germans taken prisoner were never returned home.