President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Dear veterans and friends,
Today, we are celebrating one of the most important, fateful dates in the history of our country and the world. Exactly 80 years ago, here on the banks of the great Russian Volga River, the hated, cruel enemy was stopped and sent into irreversible retreat, bringing to a conclusion the long, arduous, fierce battle for Stalingrad.
This was not merely a battle for a city – the very existence of a tormented but unvanquished country was at stake, as was the outcome of not only the Great Patriotic War but of World War II as a whole. Every person in the trenches and on the home front felt and understood this. And so, as it has happened repeatedly in our history, we united in the decisive battle and won.
The Battle of Stalingrad justifiably went down in history as a turning point in the Great Patriotic War. In addition to defeating the largest Wehrmacht group and its satellites, the will of the entire Hitler coalition was broken. The European vassals and accomplices of Nazi Germany, many of which fought at Stalingrad, representing practically all countries of subjugated Europe, began feverishly looking for ways to flee, to evade responsibility and shift the blame onto their former masters. Everyone realised what the Soviet people knew from the start – the Nazi plans to destroy our country and Nazi ideas about global domination were doomed to fail.
For 200 days at Stalingrad, two armies fought to the death amid the ruins of this legendary city. The army that proved stronger of will prevailed. The fierce resistance of our soldiers and their commanders, exceeding what is humanly possible, can only be understood and explained by their loyalty to the Motherland, their firm, absolute belief that the truth was on our side. The willingness to go beyond for the sake of the Motherland and the truth, to do the impossible, has always been and remains in the blood, in the character of our multi-ethnic people. This is what defeated Nazism.
Stalingrad has forever become a symbol of the invincibility of our people, of the very power of life. This city, its suburbs and nearby villages had to be rebuilt from the ground up, as hardly a tree or intact building was left standing in the city by February 1943.
The exceptional endurance and self-sacrifice of the defenders and residents of Stalingrad still move us to the core, evoking feelings of the deepest gratitude and respect. It is our moral duty – primarily to the victorious soldiers – to faithfully honour the memory of this feat, to pass it down the generations, and not to let anyone devalue or distort the role of the Battle of Stalingrad in the victory over Nazism and in liberating the entire world from this monstrous evil.
Now we are seeing that unfortunately, the ideology of Nazism – this time in its modern guise – is again creating direct threats to our national security, and we are, time and again, forced to resist the aggression of the collective West.
However incredible, it is a fact – we are again being threatened with German Leopard tanks with crosses on board. There is again a plan to fight Russia on Ukrainian land using Hitler’s successors, the Banderites.
We know that despite the efforts of official bodies and the corrupt propaganda of the unfriendly Western elites, we have many friends all over the world, including the Americas, North America, and Europe.
However, those that are dragging European countries, including Germany, into a new war with Russia, and especially those that are irresponsibly talking about it as a fait accompli, those who are hoping to defeat Russia on the battlefield, apparently fail to understand that a modern war against Russia will be a completely different war for them. We do not send our tanks to their borders but we have what to respond with, and it is not limited to the use of armour. Everyone must realise this.
Obviously, those who are threatening us do not understand a simple truth: all our people, we all grew up and absorbed the traditions of our people at our mothers’ knee – generations of winners who built our country with hard work, sweat and blood, and passed it on to us as a legacy.
The fortitude of the defenders of Stalingrad is the most important moral and ethical guideline for the Russian Army, for all of us. Our soldiers and officers are loyal to this. The continuity of generations, values, traditions is what distinguishes Russia, makes us strong and self-confident, makes us believe in our rightness and in our victory.
I warmly congratulate everyone here, all defenders of the Motherland today, all Russians, and compatriots abroad on the 80th anniversary of the victory in the Battle of Stalingrad.
Happy anniversary to you. Happy celebrations of the triumph of life and justice.
Thank you for your attention.