23 february

Welcoming speech by Ambassador Anatoly Antonov on the occasion of Defender of the Fatherland Day

Dear friends,
It gives me a great pleasure to congratulate you on the coming Defender of the Fatherland Day!
Each year on February 23rd this holiday is celebrated by the entire Russia. This nationwide tradition is dedicated to those, who fought for our Fatherland in the past, as well as to service members of the Russian Armed Forces, who protect the peaceful life of our citizens today.

Military service has always been revered and held in high esteem in our country. Russia confronted numerous external threats and violations of its territory and independence. But our soldiers, sailors and officers successfully thwarted aggressive plans thanks not only to their training and the might of their weapons, but also to their unbreakable spirit and great love for the homeland.

It was Russia that more than once became a bastion against hegemonic claims by certain powers for world supremacy. In the beginning of the 19th century Napoleon’s army, gaining victory after victory across the entire Europe, found a worthy opponent only in our country. During the Great Patriotic War not only did the Soviet people protect their own independence, but they also freed Europe from Hitler’s invaders.

On January, 27th Russia celebrated a significant date – 75th anniversary since the end of Nazi siege of Leningrad during World War II. Back then our Army and Navy together with civilians were heroically holding off outnumbering enemy troops for almost 900 days. The defense of the city on the Neva river was the greatest example of courage and resilience of our people.

I would like to emphasize that peacefulness is a fundamental principle of Russia’s foreign policy. Our country poses no threat to anyone. It is our firm conviction that interstate relations should be built through a mutually respectful dialogue and diplomacy, must be based on equality and a balance of interests.

Nonetheless, we will not be able to pursue our domestic development goals, unless we can protect Russia. History proves that we are treated with respect only when we are strong and firmly stand on our feet.
High combat capabilities of the Russian Armed Forces are not only a guarantee of the sovereignty, national security and peaceful development of our country, but also play an important role in maintaining global stability.

Russia’s modern Armed Forces perform their mission with honor. They cherish and build on the glorious traditions of former generations. It was with our military personnel decisive role that international terrorism suffered a devastating blow in Syria. The defeat of ISIS and other extremists helped to preserve Syrian statehood as well as stabilize the situation in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, the global state of affairs remains quite turbulent. Many old conflicts continue unabated, new hotbeds of tension emerge, and an arms race is being spurred. The root cause of many problems is violation of the principle of a common and indivisible security. That is why it is so important to develop international cooperation, including strengthening ties and mutual understanding between militaries. Our common goal is to create a system of guaranties for equal security, based on collective efforts of all interested states. That’s the only way we can secure peace and tranquility of our citizens.

Thank you for your attention. Happy Defender of the Fatherland Day!