Russia - Ghana relations/

Lecture presented by H.E. Valery Orlov, Russian Ambassador to Ghana, to the students of the University of Ghana, Legon
20-04-2005

Ladies and Gentlemen

On May 9, 2005 Russia will celebrate the 60-th anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic war. This is an enormous event in the life of mankind. Enormous, because the Second World War is the largest catastrophe in the history of mankind, and the greatest lesson for current and future generations. We must pay tribute to the memory of victims of the Second World War. And we must remember this lesson, and make the necessary conclusions from it to build a modern safe world.

This world must be balanced and democratic; it must take into account the interests of all countries. It is no coincidence that the UN General Assembly has called May 8 and 9 as Days of Remembrance and Reconciliation and invited all member states, organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations and individuals to observe annually either one or both of those days in an appropriate manner to pay tribute to all who lost their lives in that war. I also would like to underline that UN General assembly would also hold a special solemn plenary meeting in the second week of May 2005 in commemoration of the sacrifices made during the war. We believe that such sentiments in the international community and such attitudes to these events and this specific date are extremely important.

I would like to remind you that many peoples greatly contributed to the victory over Nazism. All the countries of the anti-Hitler coalition made an enormous contribution to victory. It is our common victory.

We expect the upcoming celebration of the 60-th anniversary of the Victory over Nazi Germany in Moscow, in which foreign leaders will take part, will serve to strengthen solidarity of the international community in the face of new global challenges and threats.

As for the people who want to or attempt to rewrite history, to disparage the importance of this event and the important of the Soviet Union and the Red Army, the Soviet Army, in the victory over Nazism, I would like to say that we would preserve the memory and truth of the Great Patriotic war forever. We will keep it from any attempts at distortion, from any attempts to justify the genocide, inhumanity and barbarism of the criminals. We will not tolerate attempts to rewrite the history of World War II, depicting the liberators as occupiers and Hitler's henchmen as freedom fighters.

This is important because Soviet people saved Russia, suppressed Nazism, and conquered the oppressors that encroached on the independence of our Homeland, on other sovereign nations, on freedom. And we will do everything to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again.

We think that the main lesson of World War II is that in a moment crucial for mankind, states of different political systems were able to rise above everything that separated them and unite their efforts to fight a common enemy.

Now I would like to attract your attention to some important events in the history of the Great Patriotic war.

On June 22, 1941, 4 million German, Italian, Romanian and other "Axis" (державы Оси) troops burst over the borders and stormed into Soviet Union. They began to implement the so-called "Plan Barbarossa". The combined force of the Nazi troops included 190 divisions, more than 4000 tanks, about 5000 aircrafts and over 200 warships. In some decisive directions of advance, the aggressors had multiple superiority in military strength. For a month the three-pronged offensive was completely unstoppable. The combined Panzer force passed 400 miles from the start line in just six days. I would like to tell you that Nazi aggression caught the Soviet leadership largely by surprise. Even though Germany had been assembling very large numbers of troops in eastern Poland and making clandestine reconnaissance flights over the border, Stalin, then the leader of the Soviet Union, ignored the warnings of his own as well as foreign intelligence. Moreover, on the very night of the invasion soviet troops received a directive undersigned by leaderships of the Soviet army that commanded: "do not answer to any provocations" and "do not undertake any actions without specific orders". As a result of this mistake or miscalculation we lost a big part of our territory and more then 4 million soldiers and officers in 1941.

According to Nazi plans, the Soviet Union was to be carved and liquidated as a state. Its territory was to be divided into four Reichskommissariats, or German provinces. Moscow, Leningrad (now Saint-Petersburg), Kiev and a number of other cities were to be blown up, flooded, wiped off the face of the earth.

But by the end of 1941 the German forces had lost their momentum. German movements were increasingly restricted by growing resistance of the Red Army, harsh winter weather, attacks from partisans (guerilla forces acted in the rear of Nazi forces) and difficulties in maintaining overextended supply lines. Red Army, after recovering from the initial blow, launched its first counterattacks against the invaders in December.

The Soviet winter offensive of December 5, 1941 prised the German pincers from Moscow. The victory near Moscow naturally has special significance, not just because it made possible to stop the 'Blitzkrieg'- swift capture of our country, and to break the 'Barbarossa' operation. This victory had special significance, because our people and army were able to defend the very heart of our country, our dear Moscow.

This victory was very important and had a special meaning. It became clear that the brutal and cunning enemy could be beaten, and so from this moment on our people became absolutely certain that the enemy would be defeated, and the victory would be ours. And this was the most important moral advantage, a moral victory that our army gave to the country and the world in the battle near Moscow.

We know the role that the heroic divisions of the High Command reserve and from the Far East and Siberia played in this battle.

But we well understand that neither so-called 'General Winter', nor the lack of roads in Russia was the main reason for the enemy's defeat. The loser always finds reasons for his defeat, but our soldiers and our people also faced these same difficulties. But we won because we were stronger in spirit. We won because of the heroism of our people, the skill and selflessness of our soldiers and officers, the people whom today we call veterans.

As for figures I would like to tell you that the battle of Moscow lasted from September 30. 1941 till April 20. 1942. Altogether on both sides more than 2,8 million troops, about 2000 tanks, more than 1500 aircrafts, 21000 guns and mortars were engaged in the fighting. By the end of April 1942, the casualties of the land forces of the Wehrmacht on the Soviet-German front exceeded 1,5 million, including 716000 men of Army Group Centre. This is almost five times as great as the Nazi losses in Poland, in Northwestern and Western Europe and in the Balkans. Other German losses on Eastern front were about 4000 tanks and assault guns, more than 7000 aircraft. To offset its depleted strength the Hitler command had to transfer 60 divisions and 21 brigades to the East. The Soviet troops liberated from the invaders more than 11000 inhabited centers, among them such cities as Kalinin (now Tver) and Kaluga. The enemy was pushed back 100-250 km (62-155 miles) away from Moscow.

Nevertheless, the 1942 was very difficult for our country. The German forces re-opened the offensive on June 28, 1942 in a different direction. Army Group South took the initiative, anchoring the front on Voronezh and then following the Don river southeastwards. The grand plan was to secure the Don and Volga first and then drive into Caucasus towards the oilfields, but operational considerations and Hitler's vanity made him order both objectives to be attempted simultaneously. Rostov was recaptured on July 24, when 1-st Panzer army joined in, and then that group drove south towards Maikop. As part of this, Operation Shamil was executed, a plan whereby a group of Brandenburger commandos dressed up as Soviet NKVD (National Commissariat of Internal Affairs) troops to destabilize Maikop's defenses and allow the 1-st Panzer army to enter the oil town with little opposition.

Meanwhile, 6-th Army was driving towards Stalingrad (now Volgograd). A leap across the Don brought German troops to the Volga on August 23, but for the next three month the Wehrmacht would be fighting the Battle of Stalingrad street-by-street.

The Battle of Stalingrad continued for six and a half months (from 17, 1942, until February 2, 1943). The combat operations took up an area of about 100,000 square km, with the frontline varying at different times from 400 km to 850 km. Taking part in the fighting on both sides were more than two million men, over 2000 tanks, and over 2500 aircraft, 26000 guns and mortars.

President of the Russian Federation Mr.V.V.Putin in his speech devoted to the 60-th anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad said: "This was a victory that went well beyond the bounds of military science alone and cannot be fitted into any usual historical description because it captures the very essence of the people's spirit and the nation's honour and dignity. The capture of Stalingrad as a major industrial centre and important communications hub was of decisive importance for the Nazis. If they were victorious here they would have received the advantage they needed for a decisive turn in the war in general. The Nazi mobilised a strong force for this battle, a force on which it especially counted on and pinned particular hopes. The German command hoped for not just a successful but also a speedy outcome to this battle. The long and difficult battle for Stalingrad wore the enemy down, however. For a whole 200 days and nights, fierce battles raged on this Volga River soil. The losses were terrible - a high price to pay for victory at this strategically important, final and decisive turning point."

The Nazis never fulfilled their hopes for marching victoriously into the city. They never managed to seize the initiative and launch a broad offensive. The defeat of Paulus' army (commander of the 6-th army which took part in a battle for Stalingrad) delivered the final blow to the Nazi leadership's plans for success on the eastern front.

In the course of the defensive operation, in the area between the Don and the Volga, and also in Stalingrad itself, the Wehrmacht forces were worn out and then routed in a brilliant encirclement operation, with the Soviet and German sides being of approximately equal strength. After demolishing the 330000-strong Nazi army at Stalingrad, the Soviet army launched an offensive in several sectors of the front. The Red army advanced from the Don 300 miles to the west of Stalingrad, marching through Kursk (taken February 8, 1943) and Kharkov (taken February 16, 1943).

We see how modern Germany assesses this page in its history and with what respect Germans today show the memory of the Soviet soldiers who fell vanquishing Nazism and opening the road for the construction of a democratic Germany. In his statement of February 2, 2003 marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Stalingrad, the Federal Chancellor of Germany said, "Stalingrad has become the symbol of the immeasurable suffering endured by millions of people as a result of Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union. What happened at Stalingrad remains in the collective memory of our peoples. From this mutual suffering, reconciliation, peace and the strong ties of friendly partnership are born. We will make every effort to continue developing our relations. This is our duty before those who fell at Stalingrad." It is hard not to agree with these words. For my part, I would like to note that Russia, like no other country, knows what war is. It also knows the value of peace.

This is why we respect other peoples' right to sovereignty, independence and free development. We will continue to develop relations based on a positive partnership with all countries and will work to strengthen international security.

The Battle of Stalingrad fully revealed the heroism and supreme courage of the Soviet soldiers, the military skill and organizational talents of the Soviet army command. The Battle of Stalingrad was of tremendous international and military significance. It was a historic landmark on the Soviet Union's road to victory over Nazi Germany, the decisive strategic factor behind the sweeping changes in the political and strategic situation in favor of the anti-Hitler coalition.

A high evaluation of the victory of the Soviet troops in the Battle of Stalingrad was given by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in an honorary scroll to the city of Stalingrad. It reads: "In the name of the people of the United States of America, I present this scroll to the City of Stalingrad to commemorate our admiration for its gallant defenders whose courage, fortitude, and devotion during the siege of September 13, 1942 to January 31, 1943 will inspire forever the hearts of all free people. Their glorious victory stemmed the tide of invasion and marked the turning point in the war of the Allied Nations against the forces of aggression."

After the Battle of Stalingrad was another big and decisive battle between Soviet and German troops - Battle of Kursk.

The battle of Kursk (July 5 - August, 1943) involved huge forces and material on both sides: more than four million troops, more then 69000 guns and mortars, more than 13000 tanks and self-propelled guns, and about 12000 aircraft. After the defeat at Stalingrad, that was the last attempt on the part of the Nazi command to mount a maijor offensive on Soviet-German front in order to gain strategic initiative and reverse the course of events in its favour.

The Soviet Supreme Command, knowing from intelligence reports that the enemy was preparing an offensive, decided on deliberate defence. In the series of battles that ensued, the powerful enemy groups concentrated in this sector of the front were exhausted, and subsequently rolled back in a sweeping counter-attack. The battle of Kursk, which was also known as the biggest battle of tanks in the Second World War, cost the Wehrmacht 30 crack divisions, including seven Panzer divisions. The Nazis lost more than half a million officers and men, 1500 tanks, 3700 aircraft and 3000 artillery pieces. The advancing soviet army liberated Orel, Kharkov, and many other towns and villages, thus creating favourable conditions for the liberation of the part of the Ukraine east of the river Dnepr.

When Russian people commemorated 60-th anniversary of the Battle of Kursk Russian President noted that "Kursk marks a turning point in the Great Patriotic War. Here in the summer of 1943, the Soviet army not only won a battle. It did not let the enemy take revenge for its major defeats by Moscow and Stalingrad. As a result of the battle of Kursk, the course of the Great Patriotic War and the Second World War changed for good. Events such are these are landmarks in our great history. They contain the sources of national pride and Russian patriotism. And in themselves, they are an example of military valour and service to the people. At the battle of Kursk, a very rare military strategy of premeditated defence was used. This strategy exhausted and wore out the strike groups of Hitler's troops. And the move of our army to an organised, prepared, counter-offensive that was planned in advance completed their final defeat. After the battle of Kursk, right up until the end of the war, the Germans could never again move to a serious offensive. The Nazis were not saved by their much-vaunted new technology, and they equipped their army excellently. They had fearsome machines - "tigers" and "panthers", but these did not help. They did not help, just as the most elite of Hitler's sub-units did not help. At the battle of Kursk, they faced the strengthened spirit of our Armed Forces, and most importantly - the outstanding bravery of soldiers and officers. 180 of these men were made heroes of the Soviet Union."

From here - from the Bransk, Orlov, Kursk, Belgorod, Kharkov and Sumy lands - the enemy began to crawl back into his lair.

Almost two years of heavy war lay ahead, but our army was already advancing, towards Berlin. It freed towns and villages, opened the gates of concentration camps, and brought life, freedom and hope.

It was with the battle of Kursk that the liberation of all of Europe began.

Victory in the battle of Kursk was not only ensured on the front line. The entire country prepared for it, the entire home front, working selflessly day and night. Today at the meeting with the veterans of the battle of Kursk, we talked about those people who forged victory on the home front.

The people who lived in the battle front area made an invaluable contribution to the success of this historic battle. They built aerodromes and railways, built defence structures, and nursed wounded soldiers. They worked and lived truly heroically - under shelling and bombing.

In January 1944 Novgorod was recaptured; by February the Red Army had reached Estonia and pocketed 10 Nazi divisions near Cherkassy.

In the south, they reached the Romania border in March, captured Odessa in April, and Sevastopol in May. The Soviet advance in the south continued into Romania and following a coup against Axis-allied government of Romania, the Red army liberated Bucharest on August 31.

On the central front, a massive attack of the Red army, called operation Bagration, starting on June 22 led eventually to the destruction of the German Army Group Centre the next year. In Poland as the Red Army approached Warsaw in July. It was very difficult war operation for Soviet army. Polish capital was liberated only in January 1945. In October 1944 the Red army moved into Hungary.

Over several days after liberation of Warsaw, on a broad front incorporating four army fronts, the Red Army began an offensive across the Narew river and from Warsaw. The soviets outnumbered the Germans on average by 9:1 in troops, 9 or 10:1 in artillery, and 10:1 in tanks and self-propelled artillery. After four days the Red Army broke out and started moving thirty to forty kilometres a day, taking the Baltic States, Danzig, East Prussia, Poznan, and drawing up on a line sixty km east of Berlin along the Oder river.

On the 25th of January, 1945 Hitler renamed three army groups. Group Army North became Group Army Courland; Group Army Centre became Group Army North and Group Army A became Group Army Centre. Group Army North (old Group Army Centre) was driven into an ever smaller pocket around Kenigsberg and East Prussia.

A counterattack by the newly created Army Group Vistula, under the command of Heinrich Himmler, had failed by February 24, and the Soviet Army drove on to Pomerania and cleared the right bank of the Oder River. In the south, three German attempts to relieve the encircled Budapest failed and the city fell on February 13. Again the Germans counterattacked, Hitler insisting on the impossible task of regaining the Danube River. By March 16 the attack had failed and the Red Army counterattacked the same day. On March 30 Soviets troops entered Austria and liberated Vienna on April 13.

On April 9 1945 Kenigsberg finally fell to the Red Army, although the shattered remnants of Group Army North continued to resist on the Heiligenbeil & Danzig beachheads until the end of the war in Europe. This freed up General Rokossovsky's 2nd Belorussian Front (2BF) to move west to the east bank of the Oder River. During the first two weeks of April the Red Army performed its fastest front redeployment of the war. Marshal Georgy Zhukov concentrated his 1st Belorussian Front (1BF) which had been deployed along the Oder River from Frankfurt in the south to the Baltic, into an area in front of the Seelow Heights. The 2BF moved into the positions being vacated by the 1BF north of the Seelow Heights. While this redeployment was in progress gaps were left in the lines and the remnants of the German II Army which had been bottled up in a pocket near Danzig managed to escape across the Oder. To the south Marshal Konev shifted the main weight of the 1st Ukrainian Front (1UF) out of Upper Silesia north-west to the Neisse River. The three Soviet fronts had altogether 2.5 million men (including 78556 soldiers of the 1st Polish Army); 6250 tanks; 7500 aircraft; 41600 artillery pieces and mortars; 3255 trucks-mounted Katyusha rockets.

The offensive to capture Germany and Berlin started on April 16 with an assault on the German front lines on the Oder and Neisse rivers. After several days of heavy fighting the Soviet 1BF and 1UF had punched holes through the German front line and were fanning out across East Germany. By the April 24 elements of the 1BF and 1UF had completed the encirclement of Berlin and the Battle of Berlin entered its final stages. On April 25 the troops of 2BF broke through the German III Panzer Army's line south of Stettin. They were now free to move west towards the British 21st Army Group and north towards the Baltic port of Stralsund. The Soviet 58th Guards Division of the 5th Guards Army made contact with the US 69th Infantry Division of the First army near Torgau, Germany on the Elbe River.

The victory came early May 9. In the midnight officials of the Soviet Supreme Command and those of the Supreme Command of the allied troops - Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov, Marshal of the British Air Forces Sir Arthur Tedder, commander of the US strategic air forces General Spaats and the Chief Commander of the French army De Lattre de Tassigny entered a specially prepared hall in Karlhorst in the east of Berlin. Those present from the German side were Field-General Keitel, Colonel-General Stumpf and Admiral of the Navy von Friedeburg. At 17 minutes to one they signed an act of unconditional surrender.

A few words about our allies in the Great Patriotic war.

The opening of the second front in Europe made an invaluable contribution to our common victory. Together with the soldiers of the Red Army they fought to the end, defeated the aggressor and restored peace and freedom to the peoples of Europe. The meeting of our armies on the Elba in the victorious spring of 1945 symbolized the invincibility of fraternity forged in battle and the triumph of justice.

The traditions of partnership and unity born during those hard and difficult years help us today to take a stand against the common threats we face and strengthen our cooperation in the interests of stability and security in our world.

We in Russia will always honour the courage of our brothers in arms and remember those who sacrificed their lives in the struggle against the greatest evil of the twentieth century.

International cooperation in the war on fascism and Nazism began a long time before the Second World War. Essentially, the anti-fascist forces began to unite in the war on fascism immediately after Hitler came to power in Germany. And our first allies in this war were German anti-fascists. As the conflict intensified, as the threat increased, and particularly after the Second World War began, this anti-fascist coalition was also consolidated.

And, of course, the second front in the wider sense of this word began a long time before it was formally opened, as deliveries of weapons, food and other aid to the Soviet Union from the allies, from the USA and Great Britain, were significant. And while the war was going on, everyone understood what the Soviet Union's efforts meant and what the allies' aid meant.

Later, during the Cold War, the West suppressed the role and importance of the Soviet Union in the war on Nazism for ideological and political reasons, and we suppressed the role and importance of the second front and the resistance that went in the home front of Hitler's troops on the occupied territories of Western Europe.

The Cold War is over. And now, I am absolutely convinced, the time has come to look objectively at the events of 60 years ago. We all know well, and everyone knows well, that on the Western front, or as they say the second front, around 1.5 million allied troops and about 560,000 German troops were concentrated. But on the Eastern front, about 4.5 million German troops and 6.5 million Soviet troops fought. Here the allies had 11,000 planes, while the Germans had only 160 planes. Do you see the difference?

Therefore, the importance of the victory over fascism, the importance of the Soviet Union in this victory, cannot be disputed. Of course, some pseudo-researchers, and strangely enough even in our country - out of inertia, I assume - still attempt to cast doubt on the importance of the Soviet Union's contribution to the war on fascism. I think that this will soon be forgotten. Especially as our partners, our allies during the Second World War talk about this openly and freely. French President Jacques Chirac talked about this during the meeting with Russian President in the ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the allied landing in Normandy. According to Mr.V.V.Putin, in a private conversation, the US President told him directly: "If it hadn't been for Russia, none of this would have happened". This is the most understandable, simple, honest, open and objective assessment of the events of the Second World War. But we also must not, and will not, disparage the role and the significance of our allies in the war on fascism.

The opening of the second front was awaited impatiently in the Soviet Union. It was an enormous event for our country and for the entire world, and event which of course brought victory in the Second World War closer. I think that today is the right time to remember this, bearing in mind that the world faces new threats, threats that are quite serious. One of them, as we know, is international terrorism, a war which also requires unified efforts.

The Second World War brought people of different nationalities and religions together in the common fight. Representatives of different countries, different political views and convictions, joined forces in the face of a common threat.

Today, 60 years on, we can fully appreciate the success of the anti-fascist coalition and see once again the danger of new threats emerging.

This experience of unity is particularly valuable now when terrorism and extremism have reared their heads in our world. It is a valuable experience for the anti-terrorist coalition in which Russia is a consistent ally and partner.

But those who still have the instinct to invade, to use terror to control the destinies of entire peoples, would also do well to remember the lessons of World War II. Terrorists, after all, like the Nazis in the 1930s-1940s, often speak of world domination and of their liberating mission. But this liberation extends only to their own freedom to do as they please and commit crimes against their own fellow citizens and their own people.

In conclusion of my lecture I would like to reiterate once again what the Great Patriotic war meant for us.

Great Patriotic war was a terrible stab in the back for the Soviet people. It lasted 1417 days. It was the most bloody phase of the Second World war, with its litany of catastrophes that divided the twentieth century into a before and after - before and after the war.

Nazi aggression reached its summit of cruelty in the attack on our country. The Nazis sought not just to break our people's will but to enslave us and destroy our nation. Twenty-seven million dead - no other country paid such a high price.

Great Patriotic war became a real test for the strength of our Motherland's national spirit and a time that proved the unity of all the peoples of the Soviet Union. Soviet people made their choice to be with their Fatherland in these times of danger, to defend it to the death and not to let it fall into the hands of the enemy. This choice decided the outcome not only of the Great Patriotic War but of the entire Second World War.

Many years have now passed but we can still see the consequences of that war today.

We can still see people's ruined lives, the letters announcing the deaths of loved ones, now yellowed with time, that almost every family has. A whole generation of young people was cast out of existence by that war. Even today, our demographic problems are in many ways a result of the legacy the war left us. One cannot know Russia without understanding just what our people lived through during the war and what experience we gained on the frontlines and in the rear. Without this knowledge, there is no understanding the special feelings we have for our armed forces and the defenders of our Fatherland.

Without this knowledge there is no understanding why those who survived the blockade of Leningrad have this habit of hoarding up stale bread, or why it is that our people have such a loathing of war, or why old people, and young people in their wake, so often repeat the phrase: "anything but war".

The memory of those terrible war years will remain forever as an undying national sorrow etched into the hearts of all those living together in this united country, all those who have had more than their share of grief, who traversed all the hardships of the war and did not simply survive but stood firm and emerged victorious.

We will fight to uphold the truth about this war and oppose any attempts to distort and alter it, any attempts to degrade and insult the memory of those who lost their lives. There is no deceiving history. History's lessons are there for us to heed and remember, especially when they come at such an immeasurably great price.

It is saddening when some proclaim that World War II was merely a battle for world domination between two totalitarian ideologies. It is painful to see how heroes are declared criminals and criminals declared heroes. The Great Patriotic War was not a battle between Russians and Germans. It was a war against Nazism. Soviet soldiers fought together with the allies to return peace to the world and to liberate the German people from the scourge of fascism. We know that the German people are well aware of the consequences of that terrible catastrophe and we value their much more than symbolic attitude towards the victims of Nazism.

Fascism was defeated in 1945, but the roots from which it grew have not been entirely eradicated and still bear poisonous fruit here and there in our world.

The world is still not free of ideology that preaches extreme nationalism, religious fanaticism and the idea of world domination. There are still people who look for new fuhrers, who feed off others' misfortunes and promise simple solutions to complex and tangled problems. These are people willing to do anything to achieve their aims, willing to lay aside morals and principles and pursue their aims even at the cost of blood and human lives. The crimes of the Nazis and their defeat are the greatest warning to all those who seek to drive out people of other ethnicities or religious faith, those who blame them for their own mistakes and use them as scapegoats to justify their problems and misfortunes. Xenophobia and intolerance of others inevitably grow into dictatorship and terror against one's own people. This is an axiom - an axiom that every civilized person should know and remember.

Another lesson to remember is that on the war eve none of those who could decide the world's fate were able to realise the full extent of the threat in time. The world ended up paying in millions of human lives for this political short-sightedness and inability to lay aside personal ambitions.

The Nazis' aggression was the terrible testimony of what happens when international laws are trampled upon. It would seem to be not by chance that Europe began to speak up loud and clear about human and civil rights and international laws after the Second World War.

Big wars do not just start by themselves. They flare up out of local conflicts. This is why one of the main objectives of modern global politics is to unite forces against the threats that already genuinely exist today. These threats are, as I had already mentioned before, international terrorism and nationalist and religious extremism. They have emerged today under new banners, but they are still the same old Nazi ideas.

We will still feel the consequences of this tragedy for some time to come. We can still hear its echo today. Russia and the other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States have been healing the wounds it caused 60 years ago. Yes, we worked together to rebuild cities and raise the country from the ruins, but no one can return to us the millions who died, those who never did get the chance to build their own home and raise their own children, those who never had the time to know love and learning in their full. But they did one min thing in their life - they defended their Motherland, its sovereignty and dignity. They gave us a future and we will never forget this.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

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