Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a commemorative event dedicated to the 75th anniversary of victory in the Battle of Stalingrad, Moscow, February 1, 2018
Comrades, friends, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
This year marks the 75th anniversary of victory in the Battle of Stalingrad. This memorable date is widely commemorated in our and many other countries of the world.
No doubt, the Battle of Stalingrad, which was the turning point in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 and WWII in general is part of the key events in world history. It became a vivid manifestation of the courage, fortitude, and self-sacrifice of all the peoples of the former Soviet Union, which thwarted the criminal, evil intentions of the Nazis, and prevented a global catastrophe. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the heroes.
The feat of the Soviet soldiers generated an enthusiastic international response, and raised the international prestige of our country, as evidenced by the display of documents from the Foreign Policy Archives of the Russian Federation presented here. Our victory at Stalingrad had a special significance for the fighting spirit of our Allies. On February 5, 1943, three days after the end of the Battle of Stalingrad, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called it an epic struggle, the decisive outcome of which is celebrated by all Americans. The scroll he later sent to Stalingrad on behalf of the people of the United States reads: “To commemorate our admiration for [Stalingrad’s] gallant defenders whose courage, fortitude, and devotion…will inspire forever the hears of all free people.”
The King of Great Britain presented Stalingrad with a sword, the blade of which had a dedication engraved in Russian and English: “To the steel-hearted citizens of Stalingrad from King George VI in token of homage of the British people.”
The victory at Stalingrad changed the strategic situation on other WWII fronts, inspired resistance fighters in Europe, who, influenced by the events on the Soviet-German front, stepped up their fight against the occupiers.
It is deeply meaningful that many streets and squares in European cities have been named after Stalingrad. It is a tribute to the unparalleled bravery and courage of its heroic defenders.
The Soviet foreign policy service, the activities of which from the first days of the war were aimed at forming and consolidating the Alliance, and providing uninterrupted supplies of military equipment, food and other necessary goods, made its contribution to the common efforts to defeat the enemy. Intense diplomatic work went on literally day and night. One of its important outcomes was holding in late 1943 the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers and the Teheran Big Three summit.
Ladies and gentlemen, friends, comrades,
Our key lesson from the events of those years should be that we must do everything we can to ensure that such tragedies never happen again. We cannot forget the disastrous consequences of the aspiration to achieve world domination based on ideas of exceptionalism. The destiny of the world cannot be determined by one state or a small group of “elect.” Security should be equal and indivisible for all participants of international life. Erecting a sturdy barrier to the spread of ideas of intolerance, xenophobia, racial, national or other superiority is our sacred duty to those who paid with their blood and lives for saving mankind from the horrors of the fascist scourge.
Unfortunately, immunity against the Nazi virus in some countries has significantly weakened. Today, we are witnessing unscrupulous attempts to falsify history, denigrate the liberator soldiers, invent ways to whitewash Nazis and their henchmen. We are deeply concerned by the situation in Ukraine, where neo-Nazis and radicals have reared their heads. A campaign has been launched in a number of European countries to demolish monuments to soldiers who died for peace and freedom on our continent, who gave their lives to save many nations from disappearing under the Nazi boot.
Russia will continue to strongly oppose this vicious policy. In our interactions with other states, we will uphold historical truth, and the ideals of good and justice. The honour and good name of the victors and the outcome of World War II are inviolable.
The experience of alliance and brotherhood in arms during World War II is especially important in the current circumstances, where the international community is faced with many dangerous challenges, including those posed by international terrorists who, like Nazis, completely disregard human life in order to achieve their maniacal goals. Clearly, it is only possible to cope with this and other threats if we stand together on the basis of solidarity and mutual trust, international law and the central coordinating role of the UN.
I would like to emphasise that Russia stands ready to work together in mutually respectful cooperation, to unite efforts and jointly search for solutions to all existing problems in the interest of securing peace, stability and security.