Vladimir Putin: Friends, esteemed veterans,
September 8, 1943, marks a landmark date in the history of our country. Eighty years ago today, the legendary unconquered Donbass – Russia’s centuries-old stronghold, a land of hard workers and warriors, a rich and generous land – was liberated and cleansed from Nazi occupiers. Its resources held enormous value for the enemy. Seizing them was one of the goals behind Germany's attack on the Soviet Union, and the Nazis did everything to keep the Donbass steppe to themselves and to force the people to work for the war machine of the Third Reich.
However, they ran into fierce resistance in the occupied territories, the intensity of which did not wane for nearly 700 days. During that time, while the cruel and cynical beast ruled over Donbass, hundreds of thousands of partisans, underground fighters, civilians, and children were subjected to torture and execution, and unassailable enemy fortifications grew on the key fronts.
The banks of the Seversky Donets River were dotted with bunkers and dugouts, and many kilometres of minefields. Breaking through that defence line appeared impossible, but the Red Army soldiers accomplished this task, performed feats beyond human capabilities, and travelled a heroic and sacrificial path, thus solidifying the triumph of Soviet troops at the Kursk Bulge.
The arduous and selfless assault of Saur Mogila is a special chapter.
The Nazis turned this ancient burial mound into an impregnable citadel, but there was no force in the world that could stop our soldiers. This strategic height changed hands several times and surrendered to the Soviet soldier, who stood to the death for the truth, justice, freedom, and the future of our Motherland. I am confident that nine years ago, on these frontlines that are sacred for us, Donbass militia members, descendants of the Great Patriotic War soldiers followed their example. It multiplied their courage and fortitude in yet another confrontation with Nazism, gave the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the victors the strength to defend their land, culture, language, and heritage.
The Saur Mogila Memorial, which was destroyed during the 2014 hostilities, has now been fully restored. Alongside the images of Soviet soldiers, the feats of their valiant and glorious descendants – the new heroes of Donbass – have been rightfully immortalised.
That is what Russia is: a nation united by its history, unbreakable through its spiritual traditions, and loyal to the legacy and memory of its ancestors.
I warmly congratulate the people of the Donetsk People's Republic and all Russian citizens on the 80th anniversary of the liberation of Donbass from Nazi invaders.