Russia Celebrates 65th Victory Day
'A precious chance to look back on the most tragic incident of the 20th century¡¯
The following is an article contributed by K. Vnukov, Russian ambassador to Korea, on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of Victory Day, which fell on May 9. ¡ª Ed.
The people of the Russian Federation have been observing May 9 as the day for commemorating the end of the cruelest and bloodiest war in human history. With a huge number of victims, the then Soviet people helped prevent fascism, which was threatening many people around the world, from spreading.
I believe the observation of the 65th anniversary of Victory Day on May 9 will provide a precious chance to look back on the most tragic incident of the 20th century ¡ª World War II ¡ª and its lessons. While paying respect to the heroics acts of the winners, we also pay homage to the anti-Hitler alliance soldiers, resistance fighters and general citizens who were victimized due to differences in religion and political ideology.
There is compelling historical evidence that the former Soviet Union had made a decisive role in crumbling the fascist attempt. Millions of Soviet soldiers died in the war. Nevertheless, Russia has no intention of underestimating the contribution of the allied nations in their bid to crush the fascist Germany. Rather, Russia believes all of the nations belonging to the anti-Nazi alliance were the victors of World War II. In other words, it was a common victory for all of us. As the contribution of all forces in quelling the fascist forces cannot be underestimated, we should not forgive any acts of beautifying any fascist behaviors and legacies.
But the Soviet troops¡¯ mission did not end there, as they were destined to continue fighting in the Far East to destroy the imperial Japanese forces and liberate the peoples who were suffering under the colonial rule of Japan.
Under an agreement between Russia (then, the Soviet Union), the United States and the United Kingdom, Russia was obliged to initiate war against Japan only three months after it destroyed the German forces.
Against this backdrop, the Soviet Union declared war against Japan on Aug. 8, 1945 and launched offensives in northeastern China and the Korean Peninsula. The purpose of the Soviet troops was to destroy Japanese soldiers stationed in Manchuria and the Korean Peninsula and liberate the relevant people from Japanese colonialism.
The Soviet Union beat the Japanese forces at a cost of numerous soldiers and material. Some 30,000 soldiers lost their lives including 4,500 who sacrificed their lives for the liberation of the Korean people.
In the wake of the August win over Japan, the Soviet Union also extended its hand to help the Korean people who were still struggling in the aftermath of Japanese rule. But regrettably, the Korean peninsula was divided in two due to political and geographical reasons and Korea and Russia could not realize normal relations.
In September 1990, the two nations successfully set up diplomatic relations beyond the new Cold War confrontation, paving the way for cooperative relations between the two nations. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations. The two nations are joining hands towards a peaceful partnership and co-prosperity in the 21st century. They are strengthening bilateral cooperative relations based on the friendly ties first set up 126 years ago when the two countries established bilateral diplomatic relations. nw
(photo from (right)) Russian Ambasssador to Korea Konstantin Vnukov attends the 65th Great Victory Day anniversary reception together with six other ambassadors from the Commonwealth of Independent States at the Millennium Hilton Hotel on May 7. Amb. Vnukov poses with Korean Minister of Patriots & Veterans Affairs Kim Yang, Yang Chang-soo, director general of the European Affairs Bureau at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and NewsWorld Publisher-President Elizabeth M. Oh for a group photo session at the event.