Victory Parade over in Moscow: More than 20 units of equipment seen in the parade for the first time ever
On May 8, 1945, Nazi Germany surrendered to the allied forces led by the then Soviet Union, United States of America and other countries after a bloody war. This day is marked as the Victory Day— and on Friday, 75 years since the historic moment, Ken Bosire spoke to the Russian Ambassador to Kenya, Dmitry Maksimychev, on the significance of the day.
Why is Victory Day over Nazism in the Second World War so important to Russia and Russians?
May 9, Victory Day is a special day for the people of Russia. But this year, it is especially important because in 2020, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Victory.
From the perspective of all these years, it is perfectly clear that the Victory not only saved us, the peoples of Russia and most of the nations in Europe, from total annihilation, but shaped the modern world, laid the foundations of the existing international order, created the United Nations as the basis of the modern international relations, and made possible the dismantling of the colonial system.
The Nazis’ plan for the Jews, Romas, Russians, other Slav nations was extermination and slavery. They had at their disposal the most powerful and formidable war machine in history.
It took us four long years and tremendous effort, sacrifice and suffering to stop the aggression and break the back of the Nazi beast in its lair – Berlin, and liberate Europe.
We paid a huge price for the Victory – 27 million people, most of them civilian, murdered by the Nazis and their collaborationists. 1710 cities and towns, more than 70000 villages were destroyed. Every family in Russia and the former Republics of the Soviet Union was affected by the War.
All the peoples of the USSR fought side by side to defeat Nazism. We remember and value their heroism and their sacrifice for the Victory.
Every year, on May 9, millions of people in Moscow and throughout Russia march with the portraits of their relatives who fought in the War. This grass-roots popular initiative is called “Immortal Regiment”.
What was Russia’s role in defeating the Nazis?
My country (then the Soviet Union) played a decisive role in the victory over Nazism. By the time German leader, Adolf Hitler, started the aggression against us, the Nazis and their Axis allies controlled practically the entire European continent and had at their disposal not only the tremendous European economic and technological potential but its huge human resources as well.
The peoples of the Soviet Union bore the brunt of the fight against Nazism. Just an example. During the war, the Red Army had to fight 640 divisions of the Wehrmacht and Germany’s satellites, while the Allies in North Africa, Italy, and Western Europe had to face 176 German Nazi divisions.
It is on the Soviet-German front that the Nazis suffered 80 per cent of all their combat losses. The Second Front in Europe was opened only in June 1944, less than one year before the capitulation of the Nazi Germany.
Having said that, I would like to emphasize that we honour and appreciate the contribution of our Allies to the common victory in WWII.
The creation of the Anti-Hitler Coalition of the United Nations and the pooling of their political, economic and military resources became an important factor of the aggressors’ defeat.
The support the Allies provided to us, their essential supplies helped the Red Army to liberate our country and Europe.
It is highly symbolic that on May 7, President Putin and President Trump exchanged greetings in connection with the 75th anniversary of Victory over Nazism.
They emphasised the historical importance of the allied relations that linked the two nations during WWII and allowed both countries to end a common threat.
In what way did the victory impact Africa, which not only suffered the effects of the war, but lost its gallant sons in the fighting? How has Russia engaged Kenya and other African countries in post-V-Day era?
The direct result of the victory was a clear realisation by the victorious powers that the unprecedented devastation and human suffering caused by WWII should never happen again. The anti-Hitler coalition was the basis on which the United Nations was created. Its main purpose was to build a better, safer and fairer world through dialogue and mutual respect.
For us, it meant also the national liberation of those countries who were under colonial rule. My country has consistently supported, in word and in deed, the African liberation movement, which resulted in the adoption by the United Nations of the historic Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples in 1960 and the emancipation of Africa.
Since then, we have made tremendous efforts and contributed massive resources to provide development assistance to the African countries, ensure their security, train their national cadre of engineers, doctors and intelligentsia in general.
In Kenya, in 1969, we built, equipped and staffed the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Training and Referral Hospital, one of the largest in the country.
We continue providing training to hundreds of Kenyans, and will further expand all types of support. Over the last six months, for example, we have announced the contribution over Sh400 million to address food security and locust invasion in Kenya.
The first Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi last October opened a new page of Russia’s partnership with Africa, and the meeting between President Vladmir Putin and President Uhuru Kenyatta marked the rekindling of the friendship between the two Nations.
Speaking of WWII and victory, I would like to share with you a little-known fact about the cooperation between Russians and Kenyans in the war, which I discovered recently; it was during the battle for Madagascar in 1942.
The Allies conducted a strategic operation on the island against the Axis forces of Japan and the pro-Nazi Vichy regime. The operation was carried out by King’s African Rifles.
It was supported by two Soviet tankers that delivered fuel from Egypt to Madagascar. The tankers accompanied by an icebreaker circumnavigated the globe to help the Allies. Thus, we became brothers in arms.