Russia wins Israeli backing over Soviet WWII role

19th August 2009, Comments 0 comments

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has expressed outrage at Western attempts to underplay the contribution of Soviet troops in World War II.

Moscow – Russia and Israel on Tuesday marked the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II by strongly condemning denial not only of the Holocaust but also the Soviet Union's role in defeating fascism.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has repeatedly expressed outrage over the last months at what Moscow claims are attempts by its Western neighbours to underplay the contribution of Soviet troops in World War II.

And Medvedev said after talks with Israeli President Shimon Peres at his summer residence in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi that their task must be to ensure that "real history is not distorted for political ends."

"We express our deep indignation at attempts to deny the great contribution that the Russian people and other peoples of the Soviet Union brought to the victory over Nazi Germany and also (attempts) to deny the Holocaust of European Jews," Medvedev and Peres said in a joint statement.

"No kind of attempt to revise history can diminish the clear facts."

Their apparent linking of denial of the Soviet war contribution to denial of the Holocaust came as historical controversies between Russia and its ex-neighbours mount ahead of the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II on September 1.

Western historians of the period have long irritated Russia by emphasising how strategic errors by wartime dictator Joseph Stalin and brutal purges of his top officials complicated the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.

In recent years, the celebration of anti-Soviet wartime resistance movements in Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic States has also angered the Kremlin.

A particularly sensitive date looms on August 23 with the 70th anniversary of the Nazi-Soviet pact that pledged non-aggression and planned to effectively carve up Eastern Europe.

No one however disputes the Soviet Union's suffering in the war -- according to the Russian authorities 8.6 million Soviet soldiers and 27-28 million civilians were killed in the conflict.

Six million Jews perished during the Holocaust, with almost 700,000 survivors going on to settle in Israel in the three years after the founding of the Jewish state in 1948, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington says.

"We can't just sit by quietly when other states put the contribution of the Soviet Union in defeating fascism and the horrors of the Holocaust into question," said Medvedev, according to the ITAR-TASS news agency.

Peres said that if it had not been for Russia "we would hardly have been able to defeat this menace. Relations between Israel and Russia are founded on the memory of the heroism of the Soviet Union."

Tuesday's visit to Russia was the first by Peres since he was elected Israeli president in June 2007.

AFP / Expatica

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