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US military officials shun Russian Embassy festivity

Senior US military officials have snubbed Russia’s annual celebration of Armed Forces Day held at the Russian Embassy in Washington.

Representatives from both the US military and NATO were invited to Thursday’s event as usual, but they did not show up this year, CNN reported Friday night.

“They had a room set aside with photos of all their newest military equipment — all kinds of their latest and greatest stuff,” one attendee told CNN. “But there were no US officials there to show it off to.”

A spokesman for the US Defense Department suggested that the snub was largely driven by “Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine.”

“The US and Russian militaries have regular professional interactions on issues such as the safety of operations for deployed forces,” Lt. Col. Michelle Baldanza said.

“However, following Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, the department has scaled back the overall number of professional engagements we have with the Russian armed forces,” he added.

Another thing that was notably missing at the annual event this year was the playing of the American national anthem.

The Russian Embassy in Washington

The Armed Forces Day, also known as Defender of the Fatherland Day, has been an important holiday in Russia since 1919. The February 23 celebration marks the first draft of soldiers into what would become the Red Army in 1918.

Russian embassies around the world celebrate the holiday, posting photos of opulent crowds and attendees in full military regalia on their websites.

On the website for the embassy in Washington, however, there is no mention of the party this year.

Tensions over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria have dragged US-Russian relations to their lowest point since the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

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