Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov: Together We are Invincible

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The Russian people and all people of goodwill are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the day in May 1945 when the Soviet Union, the United States, Great Britain, France and other countries jointly saved humanity from Nazi enslavement. The anniversary is an important day for everyone who fought the great battle against Nazism. This landmark event has gathered heads of state, military and public delegations from all over the civilized world for celebrations in Russia on May 9. Here in Russia we see this as recognition of our country’s considerable contribution to the defeat of the most terrifying enemy of humanity in the 20th century.

The Russian people and all people of goodwill are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the day in May 1945 when the Soviet Union, the United States, Great Britain, France and other countries jointly saved humanity from Nazi enslavement.

The anniversary is an important day for everyone who fought the great battle against Nazism. This landmark event has gathered heads of state, military and public delegations from all over the civilized world for celebrations in Russia on May 9. Here in Russia we see this as recognition of our country’s considerable contribution to the defeat of the most terrifying enemy of humanity in the 20th century.

The Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, a country that was an obstacle to Nazi Germany’s global domination, assumed an unprecedented scale and had several strategic vectors. The Nazis used the most inhumane methods in military operations: the extermination of the local population, mass looting and pillage, and the barbaric destruction of cultural and artistic treasures. On the Russian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian soil that they occupied temporarily, the Nazis shot, hung and tortured to death over 11.5 million peaceful civilians, the majority of whom were the elderly, women and children. Over five million people were enslaved, and more than two million of them never returned home.

The material damage the aggressor caused was also unparalleled. The Nazis burnt down and destroyed 1,710 towns and 70,000 villages, and over 135,000 industrial and agricultural enterprises. The war deprived the country of 30% of its national wealth.

The Great Patriotic War, as World War II is called in Russia, went down in history due to its countless victims and human suffering, but it became a symbol of the great spirit, and the unrivalled valor and heroism of our nation.

From the outset, the fight against the Nazi bloc was a just cause for us, and the Soviet-Nazi front became crucial in its very first days.

The fighting continued uninterrupted, with millions of soldiers involved on both sides, for 1,418 days and nights.

Moreover, the Soviet Union had to keep combat ready divisions in the Far East to repulse a possible attack from Japan, which had already occupied China and other Southeast Asian nations. It had also unleashed a war against the U.S. with its perfidious attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

The Soviet army won its glory by defeating Wehrmacht armies outside Moscow, heroically defending Leningrad and Stalingrad, fighting for the Caucasus, waging a great battle on the Kursk Bulge, victoriously storming Berlin, and carrying out many other major operations that defeated 607 enemy divisions, or 80% of the Nazis’ losses.

Our people did not only defend the independence of their homeland, but also fulfilled a noble liberating mission by saving many nations from extermination and the brutal regime that the Nazis had brought to Europe.

When relentless fighting began from the Baltics to the Black Sea, the Washington Post rightfully wrote that the only thought about what could have happened if the Red Army had succumbed to the pressure of the advancing Nazis, and if the Russian people had been less courageous and undaunted, makes one shudder. By fighting the enemy with such prowess, the Russians defended civilization against all humanity’s enemies.

Soviet troops liberated territory covering a million square kilometers populated by 113 million people in Southeastern and Central Europe alone at a price of over a million of our compatriots - soldiers and officers.

European Resistance fighters, and Polish, Czech, Yugoslav, Bulgarian, Romanian and Hungarian forces fought against the enemy shoulder to shoulder with Soviet servicemen.

Nor will we forget the priceless contribution of the Allies to the defeat of the Nazis. The military resources of our country were substantially replenished by weapons, hardware, ammunition and other materials from the U.S., Britain and Canada. Tens of thousands of people from the Allied countries and their armies worked hand in hand, sometimes in extremely adverse and dangerous conditions. Cargoes were delivered in various ways, including by several sea and air routes.

Convoys arrived from the U.S. and Britain via the northern seas. They headed for Murmansk and Arkhangelsk, fighting off the “wolf packs” of Nazi warships, submarines and aircraft on the way. Military hardware and munitions were delivered to the Soviet Transcaucasia from the Persian Gulf ports in the south via arid deserts, the Iranian and Iraqi mountains, by rail, road and air. Combat and transport aircraft flew from California, across the ice-covered fields of Alaska and the taiga expanses of Siberia, to Krasnoyarsk, and further to the front. Ships carried various cargoes across the Pacific to the Far East. The bulk of imported products were U.S. lend-lease deliveries that did not only provide timely economic aid but also substantial moral and psychological support for our country.

And certainly and most importantly, our cooperation resulted in the opening of the second front in June 1944. From that moment, Allied forces confidently and steadily fought their way towards each other. The heroic efforts culminated in the meeting between Russian and U.S. soldiers on the River Elbe and the long-awaited victory over the enemy.

Now that sixty years have passed since the war ended, we are still infinitely grateful to all those who fought for the victory and justice. The lessons of history teach us that there are and there can be no obstacles preventing people all over the world from uniting against global threats.

This lesson is particularly relevant today, in the 21st century, when the world is facing new challenges. They include an evil that does not recognize any laws or rules, and does not value the most precious thing on earth, human life. This evil is called international terrorism. It cannot be defeated unless the entire international community unites.

Appropriate responses must be given to other global risks, such as the proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction and the means of their delivery, radical religious communities and groups, drug trafficking, and organized crime. Accordingly, the example of the Allies will hopefully be remembered and used to the utmost in the noble cause of securing a just and long peace, as well as stability and security in the world.

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Dmitri Klimentov
RIA NOVOSTI
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