Vladimir Putin: Veterans of World War II, defenders of the Fatherland, friends!
I address my opening words today to those to whom we owe this holiday—the people who won the war to rescue this country and the world from Nazism. I thank you, dear veterans, from the bottom of my heart as I congratulate you on this glorious Victory Day.
The most terrible war of the 20th century is in the past, but May 9, 1945 is evergreen. Its cementing power grows with every passing year. Victory Day inspires our nation to bolster its spirit and nurture its principles. It remains the most cherished and the most sublime of Russia’s national days. Of that I am certain.
This will always be so. The truth of history is not overcome by the passing of time, and feats of glory are never forgotten. We shall cherish them in our memory. We shall remember your names and your comrades’ names. We shall keep their photographs in family albums and official archives. In centuries to come, every Russian will know about the battles of Brest, Stalingrad, the Kursk Bulge and Leningrad, and the storming of Berlin. We shall remember those who lie in common graves all over Europe, from the Volga to the Elbe.
Many years have passed, but Victory Day continues to symbolise the indomitable Russian spirit. Today, as in the past, it gives us self-assurance and faith in our country. New defenders of the Fatherland take up their posts with this faith.
The lessons of World War II warn us to this day against cruelty and intolerance, and teach us to cherish the neighbourly allied spirit. I welcome veterans from the Commonwealth and other countries who are here with us, in this hall. Greetings!
The lessons of the war teach us respect for others, from which self-respect stems. It is our most sacred duty today to preserve global strategic stability and prevent local conflicts from spreading, for such conflicts can evolve into great wars.
Time is merciless even to the bravest and strongest. Those who fought their way across half of Europe now have grey hair. But you have the eyes of young people. Your eyes are sparkling with the triumphal celebration you have witnessed and taken part in. Everything we cherish and take pride in is reflected in your eyes. Yours are the eyes of people of faith and courage. You have the dignified bearing of victors. I am glad to see you among us, dear veterans. Thank you for attending this gala. To gather here is another feat of glory.
It is our generation’s duty to teach our children patriotism and selflessness equal to yours, for our country’s sake. We must bring them up to be ready to stand up for the Fatherland as you stood up for it. Last but not least, we must teach them to love Russia. No victory can be attained without that love.
I drink to victorious soldiers!
To you, dear veterans! I wish you the best of health!
To a free and strong Russia! To peace and prosperity in the Russian land!
Glory to the Great Victory!