Remarks by Charge d’affaires a.i. of Russia Sergey Koshelev at the Spirit of the Elbe ceremony
Thank you for accepting the invitation to participate in today’s ceremony.
I am very pleased to resume our good tradition interrupted last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is a great honor for the Russian Embassy to reconvene at the Arlington National Cemetery with veterans, U.S. representatives and colleagues from the CIS diplomatic missions in the United States to lay wreaths at the commemorative plaque symbolizing the “Spirit of the Elbe”.
The encounter of the Soviet and American troops on April 25, 1945, in the center of Germany is a special date for Russia-U.S. relations. Last volleys of the heroic struggle against the Nazi aggression thundered during those days. The humanity was in anticipation of the moment to celebrate the triumph of freedom, justice and the retribution for the atrocious crimes committed by the Hitlerites.
We remember well the world-famous photo depicting soldiers of Allied powers met on the banks of the Elbe River who stand in a brotherly embrace. At that time frontline soldiers of the two countries swore to cherish peace and protect future generations from the ravages of war.
June 22, 2021, will mark the 80th anniversary since the perfidious attack by Nazi Germany on the USSR. The Soviet Union became the first state in the world that managed to slow down and then to stop Hitler's expansion. This had a fundamental importance for the entire course of the war. Recalling the great feat of the Soviet people, I would like to emphasize the only thing – the commitment of our country to the cause of peace which was achieved at an immensely high price.
We will always pay tribute to the courage of our brothers in arms and honor all those who sacrificed their lives in the fight against the most terrible evil of the twentieth century. We consider any attempts to rewrite history as an act of betrayal. It is our common duty to suppress unfair interpretation of the lessons of World War II and not to allow anyone to take the Great Victory over the forces of evil away from the Russian and American Veterans.
Our countries need to protect the Spirit of the Elbe. Memory of the alliance should help us to build relations of partnership in the fight against common challenges and threats of the XXI century.