By Vladimir Putin
(President of Russia)
Seventy-five years have passed since the end of the Great Patriotic War, many generations have grown up over the years, and the political map of the planet has changed.
I often wonder: What will today’s generation do? How will they behave when facing a crisis? I see young doctors, nurses and new graduates who sometimes go to the “red zone” to save lives. I see our soldiers fighting international terrorism in the North Caucasus and fighting to the end in Syria. They are so young. Many servicemen who were part of the legendary, immortal 6th Paratroop Company were 19 or 20 years old. But all of them proved that they deserved to inherit the feat of the warriors of our motherland that defended it during the Great Patriotic War.
I would like to remember once again the obvious truth. The root causes of the Second World War stem mainly from the decisions taken after the First World War. The Treaty of Versailles became a symbol of the extreme injustice to Germany. This implied that the country would be robbed and forced to pay massive compensation to the Western Allies who drained its economy. The French Marshal Ferdinand Foch, who served as supreme commander of the Allied forces during the First World War, gave a sacred description of that treaty, saying: “This is not peace. It is an armistice for 20 years.”
Today, European politicians, and Polish leaders in particular, want to clear the Munich Betrayal from history. Why? The fact that their countries once broke their obligations and supported the Munich Betrayal, with some of them even participating in the division of the spoils, is not the only reason. The other thing is that it is somewhat embarrassing to remember that, during those dramatic days of 1938, only the Soviet Union supported Czechoslovakia.
Neglecting history lessons inevitably leads to a harsh recovery. We will uphold the truth based on documented historical facts. We will continue to speak honestly and fairly about the events of the Second World War. This includes a large-scale project to create the largest collection of Russian archives, film materials and photographs on the history of the Second World War and the pre-war period.
On April 28, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said in a speech to the American nation: “Russian forces have destroyed and are destroying more armed power of our enemies — troops, planes, tanks and guns — than all the other united nations put together.” In a letter to Joseph Stalin on Sept. 27, 1944, Winston Churchill wrote that “it is the Russian army that tore the guts out of the German military machine.”
What is the power of veto in the UN Security Council? To put it bluntly, it is the only reasonable alternative to a direct confrontation between major countries. It is a statement by one of the five powers that a decision is unacceptable to it and is contrary to its interests and its ideas about the right approach. And other countries, even if they do not agree, take this position as a given, abandoning any attempts to realize their unilateral efforts. It means that, in one way or another, it is necessary to seek compromises.
It is a duty of ours — all those who take political responsibility and are primarily representatives of the victor powers in the Second World War — to guarantee that this system is maintained and improved. Today, as in 1945, it is important to demonstrate political will and discuss the future together.
The agenda of the upcoming summit of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, proposed by Russia, is very important and relevant to our country and the world at large. We have specific ideas and initiatives on all the items.
There can be no doubt that the summit of Russia, China, France, the US, and the UK will play an important role in finding common answers to modern challenges and threats, and will demonstrate a common commitment to the spirit of alliance; to those high humanist ideals and values for which our fathers and grandfathers fought shoulder to shoulder.
Drawing on a shared historical memory, we can trust each other and must do so. That will serve as a solid basis for successful negotiations and concerted action for the sake of enhancing stability and security on the planet, for the sake of the prosperity and well-being of all states. Without exaggeration, it is our common duty and responsibility toward the entire world, and toward the present and future generations.