With characteristic bravado, Vladimir Putin on Tuesday opened the gates to Patriot Park — referred to by the Russian media as a “military Disneyland.”

Putin told the crowd that the theme park, which reportedly cost 20 billion rubles ($360 million), will be “an important element in our system of military-patriotic work with young people.”

Located an hour’s drive outside Moscow in the town of Kubinka, Patriot Park has been designed to host tens of thousands of visitors daily. They’ll have the opportunity to witness re-enactments of famous Russian military victories, operate genuine military simulators and experience military facilities and equipment firsthand.

Amid the fanfare, the Russian president announced a significant expansion of the country’s nuclear arsenal, with this year’s addition of 40 intercontinental missiles.

The Guardian’s Shaun Walker describes the scene:

Lunch consists of army rations, shopping is mainly for Vladimir Putin accessories, and instead of riding rollercoasters children can play with grenade launchers and clamber over heavy weaponry

As well as being a “military Disneyland”, Patriot Park is also a conference and exhibition venue, and Tuesday also marked the start of Army 2015, a Russian military exhibition showcasing the latest equipment, attended by delegations from dozens of countries.

The president arrived at Kubinka by helicopter and spoke in front of a military choir and balalaika orchestra, who belted out a patriotic number. Putin said in a short speech that the Russian military was developing several new pieces of hardware that had “no equivalents in the world”, including the next-generation Armata tank, first displayed publicly during a military parade in Moscow last month. He said the 40 new nuclear missiles that Russia’s strategic forces would receive this year were “capable of overcoming even the most technically advanced missile defence systems”.

Hotels and entertainment centers will be opened on the grounds, which should allow families to visit for several days and make a holiday of it, according to promotional literature distributed at the launch. The park is due to be fully completed in 2017, and will cost the defence ministry 20 billion roubles (£236m), according to the Kommersant newspaper. Visitors will be able to ride tanks, shoot guns and play extreme sports.

Read the rest here.

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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