France celebrated its National Day on Thursday with thousands of French soldiers marching down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées alongside allies from Eastern Europe. The traditional parade also included warplanes, military vehicles and a drone in a performance showing France‘s might and its military efforts to support Ukraine.
The opening of the parade on July 14 this year was intended to demonstrate France’s commitment to NATO and the most war-affected European allies following the Russian invasion of Ukraine 20 years ago. weeks.
Troops from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary were assigned to the front position, carrying their national flags. The multinational troops deployed in Romania after the invasion marched after them.
Higher than usual temperatures in Paris this week did not deter crowds from gathering to watch the parade, surrounded by tight security along the Champs-Élysées.
TOPSHOT – The elite French aerobatic flight team “Patrouille de France” (PAF) releases smoke in the colors of the French flag during a flyover during the July 14 military parade on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées in Paris on July 14, 2022 (Photo
A group of young people from France’s universal national service stood and cheered as the parade began, visibly delighted to witness the event in person. A flyover of fighter jets wowed the crowd, especially the opening formation which trailed red, white and blue smoke over the Arc de Triomphe.
On the eve of July 14, French President Emmanuel Macron hailed Ukraine’s unexpected ability to deal with Russian aggression. He called for a review of the French military organization to make it more agile in the face of changing threats, as well as for “rethinking” the French military presence in Africa.
“Each of us was struck by the moral strength of the Ukrainian nation which allowed it to hold on despite an initially unfavorable balance of power,” Macron told the French army on Wednesday evening.
“I have asked the Minister, the Joint Chief of Staff and the General Delegate for Armaments to review the relevance of our organizations, our structures and even our way of seeing things… so that we can sometimes to take decisions more quickly, to coordinate better and more efficiently, and to adapt to the evolution of conflicts”, declared the President.
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron attend the July 14 military parade on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris on July 14, 2022. (Photo by MICHEL EULER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Macron and other dignitaries presided over Thursday’s event which was attended by more than 6,000 people and 200 horses from the French Republican Guard, as well as 65 planes, 25 helicopters and 181 vehicles.
A Reaper, a sophisticated American combat drone, flew over the parade for the first time. Such a drone embodies the modernization of French military equipment and has been used in Niger and elsewhere in the Sahel region of Africa as part of the French military operation to defeat the jihadists. Drones are also a powerful symbol of the war in Ukraine, where they are used more extensively than any other war to date.
The motto for this year’s Bastille events, “Share the Flame”, refers to France hosting the Olympic Games in 2024. Top Olympic and Paralympic athletes have been invited to attend. The show ends with a nocturnal fireworks display launched from the Eiffel Tower.
July 14, 1789, Bastille Day marks the capture of the Bastille prison by angry Parisian mobs that helped spark the French Revolution and, by extension, a spirit of national unity, thanks to the broad rights granted to citizens in the years that followed.
Celebrations take place in cities across France and beyond, with parties from New Orleans to Australia and beyond.
Alex Turnbull in Paris contributed to this.