President Vladimir Putin: Dear friends, esteemed veterans!
Esteemed heads of state of the Commonwealth of Independent States!
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you on the eve of this great holiday and to congratulate you on Victory Day – this celebration that we really do all share.
Sixty years ago saw the end of this most terrible war, a war that came at an impossibly high cost and that unleashed an evil the true scale of which we cannot comprehend or accept to this day.
The ruthlessness and designs of this Nazi aggression are beyond the bounds of human understanding and are one of the most horrific crimes against humanity.
Knowing this, we feel ever greater respect and admiration for you, dear veterans, from year to year, and we bow down before your great achievements.
You found yourselves thrown into the inferno of war young and full of hope. You fought selflessly and gave all your strength, all you most dearly treasured and believed in, for the cause of victory. And through your sacrifices, you gave the people of this world the chance to live, love and work in peace.
For three long years the Soviet army was all but alone in its struggle against Nazism. Decisive events and battles that determined the outcome of the Second World War were taking place here on our soil. It was here in Russia that the myth of the Nazi military machine’s invincibility was destroyed and every possible effort was made to ensure that May 1945 brought this great victory.
The Nazis main forces were concentrated on Soviet territory. And it was there that they suffered their greatest losses. And Nazi forces suffered three quarters of their losses on Soviet territory, on the Eastern front.
Today, sixty years on, our struggle and our victory have great political and moral significance and are not just a source of pride and honour for our country but are part of the historic, political and spiritual heritage we share with many other peoples – a heritage of global scale and significance.
Today, you, the veterans of the Great Patriotic War, live in different countries but the memory of those years’ events is something that no borders can ever separate and that we will all always share. Likewise, we all share the real truth of this war and the desire not to allow it to be distorted, not to give it over to the dishonest intentions of those who would revise and challenge it.
Today, I would like to remind you that in a matter of mere months the Nazis occupied and enslaved 11 European countries and put 18 million people behind barbed wire, physically exterminating more than half of all their prisoners.
The Nazis plundered and ruined the European continent. Even more terrible was the prospect of their so-called “new order”. As we know, the Nazis had plans to methodically exterminate entire peoples.
There, where the blood of innocent people was shed and a just war of liberation was fought, where the Nazi extermination machine pitilessly devoured human lives, any conclusions based on opportunist political and ideological motives would be insulting.
The lessons of the war have no less significance today when humanity again faces a global challenge. This time, the challenge comes from international terrorism. Like fascism, terrorism sows violence and death in the world and tramples on human dignity. Double standards in our attitudes towards terrorists are just as unacceptable as attempts to rehabilitate Nazi accomplices.
We cannot remain indifferent and keep silent when we see such things. We cannot be indifferent to manifestations of extremism, hatred and ideas of racial supremacy. This would be an insult to our historic memory and our conscience.
But more importantly, it could lead us towards new tragedies. It is therefore our duty to fight such threats together through the strength of our unity and our common desire to make sure that the horrors of the last war never happen again.
Again and again we think and speak of peace in our world during these May commemorations and affirm the fact that we simply must work for peace together.
On the initiative of Russia and the other CIS countries, the United Nations has declared May 8 and May 9 Days of Remembrance and Reconciliation. We also spoke about this at the CIS summit today. I fully agree with those colleagues who support this view and this slogan.
I am sure that the veterans, you who know the reality of war better than anyone, will support this initiative.
Yes, state borders now divide the peoples of the Commonwealth of Independent States. But our friendship and our fraternal ties, ties that really were forged in blood, know no borders and nothing can break or destroy them.
We are united by historic, moral and humanitarian values. This is a common heritage that we share, not something that can be divided into separate pieces. This spiritual unity continues to help our countries resolve many problems today and is an asset that we cannot ever lose or give up.
I think that the outcome of today’s meeting of the CIS heads of state was very positive and I thank everyone for a constructive dialog took place.
This is precisely why now the CIS countries have agreed to strengthen broad-based humanitarian contacts and help our peoples to communicate with each other as freely as possible. We will develop new ties and support traditional, solid historic relations. We will do this through cultural channels, through the media and through direct contact between our peoples.
That is out duty to the veterans to do all we can to ensure that the citizens of our countries have every opportunity to communicate each other.
We will do everything in order to remove all barriers to the openness of our hearts and our intentions.
I repeat once again, this is our eternal debt to you, dear veterans, our everlasting debt to the peoples who have worked together over many centuries to build our common peaceful life and our common, indivisible future together.
I congratulate all veterans once again on this holiday. Thank you for your courage, steadfastness and your faithfulness to the ideals of justice. To Victory!
Happy Victory Day, happy sixtieth anniversary, dear friends!